Clear and legible labelling of all medications is an essential component of medication safety. Labels should enable easy identification of the medication, route, dose and patient for administration by a healthcare professional, carer or for self-administration by the patient.
Labelling of injectable medicines and the devices used to deliver them has been identified as a patient safety issue.
Poorly designed label templates, insufficient detail, the use of confusable medicine names and the use of non standard or abbreviated language on labels all contribute to the overall risk of medicine selection errors by health professionals and patients. The risks are applicable to all cancer medications and supportive therapy intended to be delivered by any route.
Inadvertent administration by the wrong route can result in serious or fatal consequences. Labelling that distinguishes those medications intended for intravenous administration from those intended for administration by other routes reduces administration error.
Using barcode technology on medication labels is effective in minimising errors and assists in verifying the selection of the correct product for a patient where the product and label are scanned during the final dispensing process.
The Pharmacy Board of Australia and The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care provide standards and guidance on labelling of all medicinal products including user applied labelling of injectable medicines, fluids and lines.
The following recommendations are made in addition to the Pharmacy Board of Australia "Guidelines for dispensing of medicines" (Section 6: Labelling of dispensed medicines) and State and Commonwealth legislation and requirements for the labelling of medicines.
Table12 provides the requirements for labelling of cancer and supportive care medications.
A documented procedure for the labelling of all medications for administration by all routes in the inpatient and outpatient setting should be available.
A uniform labelling template that presents information in a consistent manner should be adopted to ensure easy identification of the medication, route, dose and patient (Neuss, 2017; Goldspiel, 2015; Carrington, 2010).
Labels should be applied immediately after preparation of a medication.
Labels should not obscure the product name, batch number, expiry date or scannable barcode of the original packaging or diluent container.
Rate and duration of administration on parenteral products should be specified to assist nursing staff in selecting the correct rate.
Medication labels should be mechanically printed in permanent ink (not handwritten).
The minimum font size for patient name, medication name and dose should be 12 point or equivalent as larger font sizes result in fewer reading errors (Trudeau, 2009; Institute for Safe Medication Practices, 2010).
Refrigeration can reduce the adhesiveness of labels causing them to become detached from the product. Adhesive strength of the labels should be such that the labels do not detach from the medication. Removable labels should not be used.
The labelling of nurse prepared medications must comply with the National Standard for User Applied Labelling (Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, 2015).
(Neuss, 2017) ;(Goldspiel, 2015) ;(Carrington, 2010) ;(Trudeau, 2009) ;(Institute for Safe Medication Practices, 2010) ;(Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, 2015)
| Patient’s first name and surname
| Medication name in full
| Medication strength in the appropriate and recognised dose unit
| Ancillary and cautionary labels
|ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PARENTERAL AND ASEPTICALLY PREPARED CANCER MEDICATIONS|
| The strength or total quantity of agent/medicine, the approximate total volume
| Route of administration
| Preparation date and expiry date
The time of expiry should be included where applicable. It is common to include the time of expiry where the stability is less than 24 hours from preparation.
|ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NON-PARENTERAL CANCER MEDICATIONS|
| Dosing instructions where applicable for patients self-administering
| The total quantity supplied
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