Experts Push to Include Medication Indication on Prescription Labels

Boston physicians are leading an initiative that could eliminate errors and improve patient-centered care.

There was once a time when physicians played an authoritarian role. It was thought that the best medical outcomes were achieved when patients were left almost entirely in the dark, submitting to the medical expertise of the doctor.

Today’s healthcare culture couldn’t be farther from that old model. The shift toward patient-centered care has altered the relationship between physicians and patients. Increasingly, patients are taking on a greater role when it comes to medical decision-making, and physicians are embracing that new dynamic.

According to experts, there is one area of healthcare that could be restructured to further the transition to patient-centered care: medication labeling. There are currently five “rights” for safe medication ordering and use (right patient, right drug, right dose, right time, and right route), but patient safety advocates in Boston have proposed a sixth: right indication.

In a perspective published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), a group of pharmacists and physicians urged healthcare facilities to adopt “indications-based precscribing” that would include the reason for a given medication so patients, pharmacists, and family members could better understand the purpose of the medication.

Gordon Schiff, MD, the associate director of the Center for Patient Safety Research and Practice at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and the lead author of the NEJM perspective, is directing a three-year patient improvement initiative funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality with a broader aim of improving health IT prescribing safety. Indications-based prescribing is just one element of that element of that initiative that could be particularly helpful for patients taking multiple medications; it would assist pharmacists in making appropriate medication recommendations and performing medication reconciliation.



This is an excerpt from Patient Safety Monitor Journal. Subscribers can read the full article here. Find out more about the journal, it’s benefits, and how to subscribe by clicking here.


This article was originally published in Patient Safety Monitor Journal. Subscribers can read the full article in the October 2016 issue.