Good medicines information saves lives

A recent seminar involving stakeholders from across the USA discussed the benefits and latest research on the latest developments in patient information. The Food and Drug Administration is pushing for improvements in patient information which we all come across – a huge sheet of tiny print that offers little to help people make best use of prescribed medicine. This is important because research shows as much as 50% of medication errors occur after a medicine has been dispensed to a patient.

Work conducted at LUTO in Leeds contributes to the debate. A couple of years ago I worked with them and colleagues at the British National Formulary to test wording of the cautionary and advisory labels used on medicines when dispensed from a pharmacy. The changes made then were tested with patients and understanding confirmed. These are the sort of changes in thinking that save lives.

When designing patient information of any kind, the key measure which matters is whether the person taking the medicine gets a benefit. That depends on engaging them, giving them accurate and appropriate information, and motivating them to take a medicine correctly while being appropriately alert to side effects and warnings.

Work on better patient information will save lives, and research in this area will reap great rewards.

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