Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Simplified Prescription Drug Labels Proposed

Date:
November 29, 2007
Source:
American College of Physicians
Summary:
Researchers have proposed an evidence-based system of simplified, standardized dosing instructions for prescription medication container labels. With current labeling, 46 percent of adults misunderstand at least one prescription container label.

You have just been prescribed a new medication by your doctor and the container label says: "take one tablet by mouth twice daily for 7 days." How much and how often should you take your medicine? This might be easy for you to answer, but 46 percent of adults misunderstand at least one prescription container label, according to a 2006 study published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Ninety million Americans -- about half of the adult population -- suffer from low health literacy. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) defines health literacy as the degree to which individuals can obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services they need to make appropriate health decisions.

At today's Sixth Annual National Health Communication Conference co-sponsored by the American College of Physicians Foundation (ACPF) and IOM, Alastair J.J. Wood, MD, FACP, proposed an evidence-based system of simplified, standardized dosing instructions for prescription medication container labels.

Dr. Wood, a member of the ACPF Medication Labeling Technical Advisory Board, called for a Universal Medication Schedule (UMS) that standardizes prescription medication dosing times on drug container labels so that patients are told to take their medicine at the same four times per day, such as breakfast, lunch, dinner, and bedtime. The UMS would replace the current practice which either instructs patients to take the medicine a specific number of times per day or at specific time intervals.

"The benefits of the UMS include use of the same dosing schedule by patients, physicians, and pharmacists; reduced variability in how the medication is prescribed; reduced variability in how the prescription is interpreted by the pharmacist; improved ability of patients to understand how to correctly take their medications; and improved therapeutic outcome," Dr. Wood said.

According to Michael Wolf, PhD, MPH, co-chair of the ACPF's Medication Labeling Technical Advisory Board, a randomized trial of 500 patients found that understanding of the UMS label was five times greater compared to a typical label.

"Prescription medication container labels need a radical change," said Ruth Parker, MD, FACP, co-chair of the ACPF's Medication Labeling Technical Advisory Board. "Improving drug labels is an issue that sits at the intersection of health literacy and patient safety. The variability of dosing instructions on labels is a source of confusion among patients, which could lead to adverse drug events."

The UMS idea comes in response to a recently released evidence-based ACPF white paper, "Improving Prescription Drug Container Labeling in the United States: A Health Literacy and Medication Safety Initiative," that describes problems with current medication labels and notes that poor patient understanding of labels is prevalent and a significant safety concern.

The white paper, presented to the IOM Roundtable on Health Literacy on October 12, 2007, recommends the following standards for improving patient understanding of prescription medication container labels:

  1. Use a UMS to convey and simplify dosage/use instructions.
  2. Use explicit text to describe dosage/interval in instructions.
  3. Organize label in a patient-centered manner.
  4. Include distinguishable front and back sides to the label.
  5. When possible, include indication for use.
  6. Simplify language, avoiding unfamiliar words/medical jargon.
  7. Improve typography, use larger, sans serif font.
  8. When applicable, use numeric vs. alphabet characters.
  9. Use typographic cues (bolding and highlighting) for patient content only.
  10. Use horizontal text only.
  11. Use a standard icon system for signaling and organizing auxiliary warnings and instructions.

"As the ACP Foundation white paper notes, the lack of universal standards and regulations for drug labels is a root cause of medication error," Dr. Parker said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American College of Physicians. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American College of Physicians. "Simplified Prescription Drug Labels Proposed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 November 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071128151751.htm>.
American College of Physicians. (2007, November 29). Simplified Prescription Drug Labels Proposed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071128151751.htm
American College of Physicians. "Simplified Prescription Drug Labels Proposed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071128151751.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

AFP (July 24, 2014) America's death penalty debate raged Thursday after it took nearly two hours for Arizona to execute a prisoner who lost a Supreme Court battle challenging the experimental lethal drug cocktail. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

AFP (July 24, 2014) China's elderly population is expanding so quickly that children struggle to look after them, pushing them to do something unexpected in Chinese society- move their parents into a nursing home. Duration: 02:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hundreds in Virginia Turn out for a Free Clinic to Manage Health

Hundreds in Virginia Turn out for a Free Clinic to Manage Health

AFP (July 24, 2014) America may be the world’s richest country, but in terms of healthcare, the World Health Organisation ranks it 37th - prompting hundreds in Virginia to turn out for a free clinic run by “Remote Area Medical”. Duration 02:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Newsy (July 23, 2014) An 8-year-old boy helped his younger brother, who has a rare genetic condition that's confined him to a wheelchair, finish a triathlon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins