• Study
  • Published June 2019

How often do prescribers include indications in drug orders? Analysis of 4 million outpatient prescriptions.

Medication errors occur frequently in the outpatient setting and can lead to patient harm. A common scenario is one in which a patient is prescribed multiple medications, does not know what each one is for, and takes them incorrectly. Medication safety experts have advocated that prescribers include indications on prescription labels to enable patients and pharmacists to check the bottle in order to remember a medication's purpose. Investigators examined more than 4 million outpatient prescriptions from a single institution and found that only 7.4% of prescriptions included an indication. Medications for symptoms like pain, nausea, and anxiety were much more likely to have indications than medications for chronic diseases. Internal medicine physicians, whose patients are more likely to take multiple medications, wrote indications 6% of the time. A PSNet perspective explored how community pharmacists can use medication indications and other tools to ameliorate medication-related harm.

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