December 05, 2006

Prescription Medicine Labels Are Often Misunderstood

Commenting on a new study from the University of California and San Francisco General Hospital, Michael Wolf, Ph.D. says that many people, even some with college educations, don't understand label instructions on their prescription medication. This misunderstanding can lead to errors taking the medications. The lower the person's level of English literacy, or the more medications a person takes, the more likely he or she will be to misunderstand the labels.

The most common error found was in misunderstanding dosages, such as confusing tablespoon for teaspoon and vice-versa. But another major area which many found confusing was how many times a day a medication was to be taken - especially when it involved taking multiple pills. For example, some people misunderstand labels saying to take 2 pills twice daily, thinking they are to take a total of two pills per day instead of the four pills per day intended.

Dr. Wolf is suggesting that the way medications are labeled needs to be updated and standardized.

Read the article: Study Finds Many Patients Don't Understand Prescription Medicine Labels
Original Source: Misunderstanding Prescription Labels: The Genie Is out of the Bottle

Tips on reducing medication errors: Medicine Safety Checklist


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