Study: Rx label translations could help prevent medical errors

February 13, 2006

Providing language-appropriate prescription labels could eliminate some of the medical errors responsible for 98,000 deaths each year in the U.S., but chain-owned pharmacies were less likely to provide them than were small, independent drugstores. This finding comes from a study in the February issue of the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, published by Meharry Medical College in Nashville.

Study: Rx label translations could help prevent medical errors

Providing language-appropriate prescription labels could eliminate some of the medical errors responsible for 98,000 deaths each year in the U.S., but chain-owned pharmacies were less likely to provide them than were small, independent drugstores. This finding comes from a study in the February issue of the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, published by Meharry Medical College in Nashville. The study examined the availability of Spanish Rx labels in the Bronx, N.Y., and found that pharmacies providing these labels usually relied on a computer program to translate the physician's order from English. Of the 865 of pharmacies using computer translations, only one had a Spanish-speaking employee who could check the accuracy of the computer and correct errors. In addition, patients had to specifically request a Spanish label at all of the pharmacies.

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