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Reporting a Medication Error

Take a Tour of ISMP’s Updated Consumer Website: ConsumerMedSafety.org

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) is delighted to announce the official launch of our newly updated consumer website, consumermedsafety.org. In 2009, consumermedsafety.org went live as the only website designed by a nonprofit organization exclusively bringing the message of medication error prevention directly to the consumer.  

Our updated website demonstrates our commitment to providing the most up-to-date information that is easy to navigate. Consumermedsafety.org has a newly branded logo and the website has a modern and clean look. It remains advertisement free so users can easily access, view, and use the website. Here’s a quick tour through the site!

A scrolling marquee provides vital and newly posted content, including the latest drug safety warnings and advice from experts. Current examples include an article on being sure not to confuse concentrated “ibuprofen infant drops” with “children’s ibuprofen,” and an article about what to do if your liquid medicine is dispensed as a powder.

A robust search engine to help locate safety topics of interest. Above the scrolling marquee, use the search feature to locate safety articles by entering a keyword. Or click the “browse all safety articles” button to scroll through hundreds of medication safety topics and breaking news about safety related issues with medicines. Current examples include preventing mistakes with your pet’s medicine, tips for starting and stopping antidepressants safely, and a confusing scale printed on a specially designed syringe.

Consumers are invited to share their stories about errors or safety issues with medicines by clicking on the red button that says, “Report a Medication Error.” This will take you to a webpage that describes the importance of reporting   errors with medicines and will walk you through a user-friendly, online reporting form. (Or you can always submit a report by calling ISMP directly at 215-947-7797.) Reporting errors and concerns about medicines to ISMP, allows us to identify ways to improve safety. For example, staff at ISMP review all error reports and let the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) know about the error. ISMP also notifies drug companies when changes are needed with their medicines. All personal information is kept confidential and not shared with FDA or the company. We may then share some of the errors as stories in our SAFEMedicine newsletter and on our consumermedsafety.org website. These stories will contain recommendations for consumers, healthcare providers, and drug manufacturers to prevent errors with medicines.

In the tool bar at the top of the main webpage (see image above), the first navigation drop-down menu named Medication Safety Tips lists three different sections: Safety with Medicines, Safety by Location, and Safety by Population. Each section features articles and/or tools that are specific for certain topics or situations. For example, under the Safety with Medicines section you will find teaching sheets on different high-alert medicines, such as prescription pain medicine and medicines used to treat diabetes. There is also information about over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, safety information about vaccines and medicine patches. The Safety by Location section provides safety tips that are useful while at the hospital, doctor’s office, pharmacy, and others. Finally, the Safety by Population provides safety tips for various age groups such as older adults and children, and even has information about medicine safety with pets.

The next navigation button, Featured Resources (see image below), has a drop-down menu that lists six different sections that include the following:

The Insulin Safety Center is dedicated entirely to preventing errors with the use of insulin—a high-alert medicine frequently involved in harmful errors. This section provides consumers with information about insulin, typical errors that happen when using insulin, and steps that can be taken to prevent errors with insulin. For example, this section provides detailed safety tips for using an insulin pen correctly.

The Over-The-Counter (OTC) Medicines section is where consumers can navigate through 10 different topics related to medicines that can be purchased without a prescription: Basics of Over-The-Counter Medicines; Safe Medicine Storage & Disposal; Drug Interactions, Reactions, & Allergies; Multi-Symptom & Combination Products; Medicine for Children; Measuring the Dose of Liquid Medicines; Labels & Packages; OTC Drug Abuse; Herbals, Vitamins, & Homeopathic Products; and OTC Pain Relief. In each section, there is a list of topics related to the section that include important safety tips about OTC medicines.

Another section in the drop-down menu is Top 10 Lists, which feature many different lists related to safety with medicines. For example, one list describes the Top 10 Steps Parents Should Take to Prevent Medicine Mishaps when giving a child medicine. Other examples include safety tips when using topical medicines, OTC medicines abused by teens, safety tips when traveling with medicines, safety tips when measuring liquid medicine doses, and others.

FDA Alerts is a special section dedicated to delivering the latest updates on medicines and products regulated by FDA. This section also provides information on where you can find drug recalls, drug shortages, and Medication Guides (consumer-friendly, easy-to-read information sheets about a specific medicine).

A section titled Additional Resources features specific topics related to safety with medicine. Here you can find information about how to read a prescription, preparing for a disaster, how to measure liquid medicines, a list of medicine tablets not to crush or chew, and more.

Finally, the General Medication Safety section addresses general safety tips with medicines, such as information about what you can do at home, while in the hospital, and while at a doctor appointment. This resource is also available in a PDF format to print as a colorful document.

We hope that you, your family, and friends will use our new website to learn more about safety with medicines. Having knowledge and understanding about safe medication practices and being involved in care decisions is an excellent way to prevent an error from happening to you or a loved one. We hope you find our website useful and continue to report medication safety events to us so we can identify ways to improve medication safety.

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