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Messy handwriting leads to medication errors

To people in Iowa, it is fun to joke about how doctors have messy handwriting, to people who have experienced a medication error, messy handwriting is not something to laugh about. According to Time, about 7,000 deaths every year are a result of medical errors caused by messy handwriting, with another 1.5 million people suffering injuries because of the same errors. Issues usually result because dosage amounts and directions cannot be read, or medication names are incoherent. Obviously, a patient receiving the wrong dosage or wrong medication can have catastrophic results.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it is not just sloppy writing that is to blame for such medication errors. Similar medication names and incorrect abbreviations also play a role. There are specific abbreviations that tend to be commonly misinterpreted, such as U that signifies unit being read as a zero. There are also very many medication names that look similar, such as Taxol and Taxotere or Celebrex and Celexa.

The FDA has taken some steps to try to help reduce the issues with prescription errors. These include reviewing drug names to prevent them from being too similar and the use of bar codes on medications. In addition, the agency encourages patients to always review their medications to make sure they match what the doctor stated. Another proposed solution for doctors is to use computerized prescription programs. In addition, the FDA has been working to increase the monitoring and reporting of medication errors to help increase awareness and boost efforts to decrease them.

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