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November 1991

Labeling Drop Bottles to Avoid Medication Errors

Author Affiliations

Winston-Salem, NC

Arch Ophthalmol. 1991;109(11):1490. doi:10.1001/archopht.1991.01080110024002

To the Editor.  —An important part of the success of medical treatment depends on the patient's insight to the disease process, compliance, and understanding of the type and dose of medication to be used.1,2 Medications can be prescribed, but not taken, and vice versa, or taken at incorrect frequency.We have noticed that patients, who are taking various eye drops as prescribed, err by applying the incorrect number of drops. Drop bottles frequently look alike, and even colorcoded bottle caps can be placed on the incorrect bottle after use.We have found that using the following method to label drop bottles and medication containers improves the patient's understanding about the frequency of the dose to be taken. We use the brightly colored labels that are widely used to number patient files (Figure). Each stick-on label displays a number, which represents the number of drops to use each day. The

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