Preventing medication mistakes

Don't flush
MPR Photo/Lorna Benson

As prescription pharmaceutical use continues to increase, managing multiple medications has become a problem for many patients.

A recent CNN report looked at medication errors:

"Medication errors harm at least 1.5 million people every year, according to the Institute of Medicine. In hospitals, there is at least one medication error per patient per day, according to an IOM report last year... Outside the hospital, the situation is not as clear. But the IOM report says roughly 530,000 medication errors occur among Medicare recipients in outpatient clinics -- and that this is most likely an underestimate."

"The numbers really are staggering," said Albert Wu, professor at the Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health, in the CNN report. "Medication errors happen every day."

Wu will join The Daily Circuit Wednesday to discuss managing multiple medications. Labels of prescription containers are a big part of the problem, he said.

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"Those are two very important square inches," Wu said in American Medical News. "The physician can make the right diagnosis, choose the appropriate medication for the patient, get the appropriate prescription dispensed and have it go completely to waste, since the patient doesn't know clearly what to do with it because what is present on the current labels may not be understandable to them."

Science and medical journalist Greg Critser will also join the discussion.

"The Food and Drug Administration should use its powers to control labeling -- which ads essentially are -- to slow down such blitz campaigns and so attend to the 'societal interest,'" Critser wrote in the New York Times. "Either that, or keep going to court."