DISCUSSION

One audience member stated that an evidence-based standardized format for writing prescriptions would make the job of the physician much easier. With such a standardized form, even if it were translated into another language, the prescriber would know exactly where and how to fill in the instructions for use. Therefore, moving forward with testing of a standardized prescription format appears to be a very good idea.

Another participant raised concerns about samples. In many cases, particularly with vulnerable populations who cannot afford medications and who are seen in community health centers and other settings, physicians often give samples and provide instructions for their use. Providing such samples may be of great concern, particularly when they are given to patients with low levels of literacy or language barriers. Wu responded that the IOM report on preventing medication errors (2007) was quite critical about the use of samples because samples provide many opportunities for bypassing safety checks that otherwise exist. However, if such samples were dispensed in unit-of-use packages, this might be an opportunity to provide more information in an attractive package and might offset some of the potential risks caused by the relatively unfettered distribution of samples. Bullman stated that the NCC MERP is examining the use of samples. Dolan emphasized the need for counseling and education of patients about proper medication use.



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