Faced with the increasing number of pharmaceutical products on the market, several pharmacovigilance notifications regarding confusion between look-alike and sound-alike drugs have been reported. This study of perception among patients, family physicians and pharmacists aims to evaluate drug identification factors and the risk of errors of confusion for patients.
Material and methods
Patients were systematically approached in randomly selected pharmacies within the Midi-Pyrénées region in France and invited to complete a questionnaire. Two other questionnaires were respectively sent to family physicians and pharmacists in the same region asking for their opinion on patients’ perception of the identification of prescribed medicines.
Of the 768 patients interviewed, most report identifying their medications by name (brand name: 50%; generic: 21%), while a smaller number cite physical appearance (box: 16%, tablet: 7% and blister packaging: 3%). In practice the factors considered most likely to cause confusion by patients relate to drug appearance (look-alike tablets: 28%, look-alike boxes: 20% and look-alike blister packaging: 13%). In contrast, look-alike and sound-alike names (generic and brand names combined) were cited in 31% of cases. Physicians (n=345) and pharmacists (n=198) understimate that patients identify their treatment by name (physicians: 46%; pharmacists: 26% vs. patients: 71%), reporting instead that problems arise mainly from the appearance of medicines (physicians: identification: 52% and risk factors for confusion: 74%; pharmacists: identification: 74% and risk factors for confusion: 83%; versus patients: identification: 26%; risk factors for confusion: 61%).
Our study highlights the critical role of medication name in identifying drugs among patients. However, confusion of look-alike tablets or pills figures prominently among fears surrounding medication errors. Despite several notifications of pharmacovigilance, this issue appears to be underestimated within the body of medical literature. Proper identification of medicines by patients is essential to improving medication safety and therapeutic compliance. Concrete measures can be undertaken to reach this goal.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Keywords : Medication errors, Tablets, Dosage forms, Drug packaging
Vol 74 - N° 6P. 591-598 - décembre 2019 Retour au numéro
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