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Intravenous medication labeling changes may reduce risk of errors

There are several factors that come together to determine the care that a Kentucky patient receives in the hospital. Some people might automatically think about the nurse's skills and the doctor's training when they think of care factors. Those, however, aren't the only factors that affect patient care.

One factor that can greatly impact that care is drug labeling. When a patient is in need of medication via an intravenous drip, it is up to a medical professional to administer that medication. In emergency situations, the labeling on that bag of drugs can have a big impact on patient care, according to a study published in the Journal of Patient Safety.

The study looked into how much a new bag design with white lettering on a black background with both sides of the bag printed would make on proper administration of the medication. The study used critical care mock-ups to gauge the effect of the new labels.

The 96 anesthesia trainees needed to get hetastarch from an anesthesia cart in an emergency situation. Instead of placing the medication in the proper place, the bag was moved. In the place of hetastarch was lidocaine. When the new labeling was used, more anesthesia trainees -- a total of 60 percent -- recognized the problem and found the correct bag. Using the current standardized labeling, fewer anesthesia trainees --a total of 40 percent -- administered the hetastarch.

Medical professionals have a duty to provide treatment that meets the current standard of care. Part of that care includes administering the proper medication. When improper medications are administered, the patient can be harmed.

Source: Medical Xpress, "Label design may affect risk of medication errors in OR," March. 16, 2015

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