In providing patient medication supplies, there is a lot of detail that goes into each and every package. Unit dose medication packaging solutions including materials like labels for single-dose vials and syringes must also comply with federal standards for labeling drugs. This takes a lot of diligent attention and can be a daunting task for healthcare facilities and pharmacies. The evidence suggests that pharmacies are making more critical mistakes with mislabeled or unlabeled syringes, leading to serious medication safety concerns. However, there are guidelines and technologies available to assist pharmacists in providing the most accurate labeling information for every medication syringe. Start by understanding more about the importance of safe and accurate medication labels.
Importance of Labeling Medication Syringes
The Joint Commission released National Patient Safety Goals, laying out goals for improving medication safety by labeling all medications, medication containers, and other solutions to ensure patients receive the correct medication, whether they are in a perioperative setting, assisted living community, or by themselves at home. According to Federal Survey Manual and F431 §483.60(d) Labeling of Drugs and Biologicals, “Drugs and biologicals used in the facility must be labeled in accordance with currently accepted professional principles, and include the appropriate accessory and cautionary instructions, and the expiration date when applicable.”
Injectable medications, along with many oral medications, are dispensed as ready-to-use syringes that are either administered by a healthcare professional or by the patient. This is when labeling medications is paramount, since patients have only the information on the syringe label to help guide them. However, even in clinical areas, mistakes can be made when medication vials and syringes are improperly labeled. Hazardous conditions are increased for the patient when high-alert medications are being administered.
Everything the patient requires for proper dose administration must be printed on the label. At a minimum, medication containers and medication syringe labels must include:
• Accurate spelling of medication name
• Brand name or generic name
• Patient’s name
• Dosing amounts
• Dosing and/or drug administration instructions
• Total medication quantity
• Medication expiration date
• Date of dispensing
• Serial number
• Name of the prescriber
• Name, address, and telephone number of the issuing pharmacy
Each piece of information is there to improve patient safety. Reducing spelling errors, typographical mistakes, or the spacing of the information including label breaks will help prevent patient harm.
Safe Labeling Prevents Medication Errors
A patient error with medication involving a syringe can send a patient straight to the ER or worse. This could be due to an overdose of medication, or not using enough medication because the labeling instructions are inaccurate. Other concerns are using the wrong medication altogether due to a mistake with labeling in the pharmacy.
Keeping patients out of the emergency room is a top priority for the medical industry. Medication is expected to make the patient better, not increase their rate of illness or chance of suffering from an overdose, adverse reaction, or misuse. This is where providing safe labeling will prevent medication errors and save a pharmacy from a lawsuit.
Issues With Mislabeling Vaccinations
Vaccines are one of the most common types of injectable medications, especially since the COVID-19 vaccines became available. Giving the wrong dosage or vaccine can be detrimental to the patient’s health and personal wellness.
In 2021, there were multiple reports of mix-ups between the Flu and COVID-19 vaccines. With more vaccinations being added to the market all the time, labeling syringes accurately and having procedures in place to reduce errors is the best way to ensure patients are getting the right vaccine at the right dose.
It is important to focus on perfecting a medication syringe labeling process. This typically involves automation equipment as a way to also improve production with fewer labeling mistakes. Along with choosing a new syringe labeling system by MPI, you want to identify elements of syringe labels that must meet federal and industry guidelines. This includes the font type and size, as well as the color of the label and printed information...
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