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Study finds new labels on IV bags can reduce errors

Medication errors can lead to serious complications and deaths. In fact, roughly 98,000 patients in U.S. hospitals die every year because of medication errors, according to the Institute of Medicine. 

Medication errors can be caused by using the wrong drugs, giving the wrong dosage or giving medication to the wrong patient. All of these are hazardous and pose serious risks to patients.

In regards to giving the wrong medication to a patient, a new study found that different labels on IV fluids in hospitals can reduce the risk of medication errors. The study found that IV fluid labels that have a different design are easier to read and can prevent medication errors. 

In the study, participants were assigned random carts that had IV bags with newly designed labels where the drug's name was written in white on a blue background and IV bags with current labels, where the drug's name is written in blue or red letters over a transparent background.

The study found that the participants were more likely to pick the correct IV bag with the new design. They were also more likely to tell that they had selected the wrong IV bag if it had the new label design compared to the current design. 

Selecting the wrong IV bad can be a fatal error. The study's researchers are hoping the new designs can help prevent medication errors because the labels are easier to read. 

Hospitals should be aware of this study and the impact labels can have on the rate of medication errors. Since many medication errors are caused by not giving the right drug to a patient, investing in new label designs could be a way to prevent and reduce medication errors in the future. 

Source: MedPage Today, "How IV Bag Label Redesign Can Save Lives," Lena Weiner, April 5, 2015

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