Improve mandatory national standards for drug packaging in South Africa
In South Africa there is currently no standard or guideline with regards to the packaging and labelling of drugs. There are a multitude of medications with a varied range of effects that can easily be mistaken for another due to the similar appearance. Drug errors have potential to put the patient at serious harm, it is important that factors such as non-standardised packaging is rectified in order to minimise this risk.
The campaign does not aim to replace sound clinical practice but rather aims to enhance it. Having labelling that is easy to identify, read and follows a set protocol will encourage the practitioner to accurately identify medication. Pattern recognition with repeated use will hopefully be beneficial, where as now this is another contributor of potential error. This is only possible through regulation of labelling.
The aims of this campaign include the following:
- Ensure text (size, layout, font) is standardised thus making the essential information easy to read
- Standardised colour coding for specific classes of drugs
- Standardisation of type of packaging (vials, glass, or plastic ampoules) for different classes of IV drugs
Suggestions on methods of achieving effective labelling can been seen in the "Time for Change" proposal by Amy McRae from Australia. While this proposal is designed for neuromuscular agents, the principles are easily transferable to drugs of other classes. By joining this campaign you both support a local as well as an international call for standardisation of packaging.
The overall appearance of the drug should be subject to a mandatory standard of packaging that is dictated by national authority. Being able to easily distinguish between different classes of drugs as well as identify ones with similar actions will allow for a user-friendly product that will ultimately benefit the patient. This needs to be done in a way that does not compromise the ability to distinguish between individual medications.
The ultimate goal is to reduce the risk of drug error and minimise patient harm.
Further information on the #EZDrugID campaign can be accessed at: EZDrugID.org
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