Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Most prescription labels fail to meet guidelines, risking dosage errors, Canadian study concludes

Date:
July 9, 2014
Source:
University of Waterloo
Summary:
Small print and poor printing on prescription labels handed out by pharmacists may be misread and may lead to errors in taking medication, according to new research. By simply following recommended guidelines for font size, use of bolding, justification, sentence case and spacing, researchers expect pharmacies can improve the legibility of their labels without the need for new technologies or larger labels.

Small print and poor printing on prescription labels handed out by pharmacists may be misread and may lead to errors in taking medication, according to new research by the University of Waterloo and CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind).

The study, published recently in the Canadian Pharmacists Journal, found that labels on prescription medications dispensed by pharmacies do not consistently follow professionally recommended guidelines for legibility.

By simply following recommended guidelines for font size, use of bolding, justification, sentence case and spacing, researchers expect pharmacies can improve the legibility of their labels without the need for new technologies or larger labels.

"Surprisingly, there are few guidelines and no regulations for the print on prescription labels in Canada," said Dr. Sue Leat from Waterloo's School of Optometry and Vision Science. "In Ontario, regulations specify only the content of prescription labels, not how they appear."

Health professionals and patients are finding label appearance is more important as a significant number of older Canadians experience vision and reading comprehension problems. Patients also prefer to read their own prescriptions to preserve their privacy and independence.

Researchers asked 45 pharmacies in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge to print a sample prescription label with the patient's name, drug name and instructions for use. The sample label was then compared with label printing recommendations from pharmaceutical and health organizations, and non-governmental organizations for readability.

The results show that less than half -- 44 per cent -- of labels met the minimum font size of 12 points. Only half of labels were printed left-justified and few met the recommendations for best use of spacing.

All labels used capital lettering, which is difficult for patients with eye problems to read, instead of the recommended sentence case.

More than 90 per cent of labels followed guidelines for font style, contrast, black print and non-glossy paper.

"The research shows that factors such as font size, sentence alignment, case and contrast can impact the readability of the label," said Professor Carlos H. Rojas-Fernandez from Waterloo's School of Pharmacy and a Schlegel Research Chair in Geriatric Pharmacotherapy. "We expect that addressing these factors together will improve the accessibility of prescription labels. We need to move from a pharmacy-centred labelling standard, to a patient-centred one."

This is the first collaborative research project between Waterloo's School of Pharmacy and School of Optometry and Vision Science and was funded by the CNIB Baker Fund.

"CNIB helps thousands of Canadians with vision loss maintain their independence," said Deborah Gold, a study co-author and national director, research and program development at CNIB. "In order to do this and eliminate potentially dangerous medication accidents, we need to raise this issue amongst our colleagues in the pharmacy community."

Recommended guidelines considered in this study came from the US Pharmacopeia (USP), the American Society for Consultant Pharmacists, the National Patient Safety Agency in the UK, the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) in the UK, and the American Council of the Blind (ACB).

The researchers plan to develop a prototype pharmaceutical label and test its readability and accuracy and use a questionnaire to survey pharmacists and patients (with and without visual impairments).


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. S. J. Leat, K. Ahrens, A. Krishnamoorthy, D. Gold, C. H. Rojas-Fernandez. The legibility of prescription medication labelling in Canada: Moving from pharmacy-centred to patient-centred labels. Canadian Pharmacists Journal / Revue des Pharmaciens du Canada, 2014; 147 (3): 179 DOI: 10.1177/1715163514530094

Cite This Page:

University of Waterloo. "Most prescription labels fail to meet guidelines, risking dosage errors, Canadian study concludes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140709115457.htm>.
University of Waterloo. (2014, July 9). Most prescription labels fail to meet guidelines, risking dosage errors, Canadian study concludes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140709115457.htm
University of Waterloo. "Most prescription labels fail to meet guidelines, risking dosage errors, Canadian study concludes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140709115457.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Newsy (July 19, 2014) Research on plaque from ancient teeth shows that our prehistoric ancestor's had a detailed understanding of plants long before developing agriculture. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Contaminated Water Kills 3 Babies in South African Town

Contaminated Water Kills 3 Babies in South African Town

AFP (July 18, 2014) Contaminated water in South Africa's northwestern town of Bloemhof kills three babies and hospitalises over 500 people. The incident highlights growing fears over water safety in South Africa. Duration: 02:22 Video provided by AFP
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