Standardized Rx dosing schedule and label proposed

November 30, 2007

ACPF and IOM propose a universal medication schedule

A Universal Medication Schedule (UMS) that will standardize prescription medication dosing times on drug container labels has been proposed at the Annual National Health Communication Conference by both the American College of Physicians Foundation (ACPF) and the Institute of Medicine (IOM). The recommendation comes in response to the evidence-based ACPF white paper Improving Prescription Drug Container Labeling in the United States: A Health Literacy and Medication Safety Initiative, which found that poor patient understanding of labels is common and a significant safety concern. The paper recommended using UMS to convey and simplify dosage/use instructions with explicit text, organizing the label in a patient-centered manner, including an indication for use when possible, using a larger font for print size, avoiding medical jargon, and utilizing a standard icon system for auxiliary instructions. According to ACPF, a randomized trial of 500 patients found that five times as many patients understood the UMS label compared with a typical label currently used. ACPF Medication Labeling Technical advisory board member Alastair J. J. Wood, M.D., said the proposed labeling would enable the same dosing schedules be used by patients, pharmacists, and physicians, leading to reductions in variability in prescribing and how the prescription is interpreted by the pharmacist, as well as to improved therapeutic outcomes. According to IOM, 90% of Americans have low health literacy.

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