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New national standard for labelling dispensed medicines

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Eyecare professionals who dispense medication are being urged to familiarise themselves with a new national standard about labelling requirements.

The National Standard for Labelling Dispensed Medicines has been published by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare (ACSQH) this month and is intended for health professionals who dispense medication.

When labels are applied to medicine packaging at the point of dispensing, this is usually performed a pharmacist, but the commission notes this may also be done by pharmacy technicians, nurse practitioners, GPs, optometrists and dentists.

The standard, which sought input from Optometry Australia, provides an evidence-based approach to presentation of medicines information. It includes 12 standards such as displaying the active ingredient before the brand name, the use of digits for dosage quantities, and explicit and clear dosing instructions, among others.

“Consumers need a good understanding of how and when to take a medicine. This can help them to use their medicines safely and help achieve the best possible health outcomes,” the ACSQH said.

“Misunderstanding of how to use medicines can lead to unintentional misuse, which may result in harm or adverse health outcomes. The design and content of information on a medicine label influences how well the consumer understands the information, especially for consumers with low health literacy.”

The commission said standardised and consistent presentation of medicine-related information on dispensed medicine labels had the potential to improve health outcomes.

“This National Standard for Labelling Dispensed Medicines describes standards and supporting strategies that align with legislative requirements. This standard should be considered as part of dispensing best practice and applied in addition to these requirements,” the ACSQH said.

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