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Last Updated
December 1, 2016
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November 30, 2016
Medication Expiration Dates Matter
If your medicine has expired, it may not provide the treatment you need. In this Consumer Update video, FDA 
Pharmacist Ilisa Bernstein explains how expiration dates help determine if medicine is safe to use and will work as 
intended.  Related:  See: Safe Medicine Disposal.

November 28, 2016
How Patient Engagement, Education can Improve Medication Safety
Providers can better detect prescribing mistakes through strong patient engagement and education, ultimately 
boosting medication safety, new research from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information 
Technology (ONC) shows. The report, which focuses on medication ordering within the electronic health record (EHR), 
first recommended that clinicians provide patients with after-visit summaries, including detailed medication lists. 
Offering after-visit summaries can add another layer to the checks providers should run to ensure they have 
prescribed the right medication to the correct patient.
When patients have the opportunity to review which medications they are taking, they may pick up an error another 
clinician had missed. ONC also suggests an education strategy that tests patient understanding by asking them to 
explain, or "teach back," concepts to their providers. "In the 'teach back,' a provider reviews with the patient a 
summary of the discussions and decisions made during the encounter to ensure understanding," the researchers 
explained. "If the patient has been given the wrong medication or administration due to a pick list error, careful review 
of the after-visit summary by the patient is perhaps the most important step in identifying and rectifying the error."  
(Source: Patient EngagementHIT (11/17/16) Heath, Sara)

November 17, 2016
Spoons are for Soup – Not for Medicines©
Content below from: “Don’t leave parents to their own measuring devices,” Pharmacy Today, APhA, November 2016, 
Volume 22, Issue 11, Page 31)
Some 40% of parents make dosing errors when administering liquid medications to their children. The majority of 
these errors are overdoses. The mistakes contribute to more than 10,000 calls to poison control centers annually. 
Parents shouldn’t be left to their own devices—such as using the various-sized spoons in their silverware 
drawers—when it comes to dosing medications for their children. Two recent studies suggest that access to 
appropriate measuring devices and consistent prescription labeling would greatly reduce parental error.
“This is a problem that we need to work on. Parents, grandparents, and other caregivers are often confused about 
measuring medications,” said Robert Kuhn, PharmD, professor of pharmacy practice and science at the University of 
Kentucky College of Pharmacy and a pediatrics pharmacy specialist at the Children’s Hospital of Kentucky, both in 
Don’t ‘take a teaspoon’
The problem can start with the label on the bottle. Inconsistencies on prescription labels instruct patients to dose in 
teaspoons, milliliters, or both. Instructions to measure doses in teaspoons only are more likely to lead to errors, says 
a five-arm randomized controlled experiment published in the September issue of Pediatrics. The study assessed 
parents’ ability to accurately measure medications based on instructions that listed the dose in “mL,” “mL and 
tsp,” “mL and teaspoon,” and “teaspoon.”
“‘Take a teaspoon’ should be a phrase we just don’t use anymore,” said Kuhn. “Even though doctors write it that 
way, we try to convert it to let parents know exactly how much that is. A teaspoon is 5 milliliters.” Kuhn urges other 
pharmacists to do the same. 
Dosing instructions in spoon units can only increase the likelihood that parents reach for household spoons when 
administering medication. The American Academy of Pediatrics formally spoke out against dosing with household 
teaspoons in 1975. Still, a 2000 study found that they continued to be the most common pediatric dosing 
instrument. According to the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association (JAPhA), the size of a household 
teaspoon can range from 1.5 mL to 10 mL.  Depending on the person measuring, the same spoon can deliver a dose 
difference of 4 mL.
© National Council on Patient Information and Education, NCPIE, Nov. 2016.

November 17, 2016
U.S. Surgeon General: New Report --1 in 7 in U.S. will Face Substance Addiction
The U.S. Surgeon General has issued a new report that says one in seven Americans will face substance addictions and 
only 10% of those who are now addicted receive treatment. The study, Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon 
General's Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, is the first report from a U.S. surgeon general on substance 
“Solving this problem is not going to take place if we just pass a few laws or if public health experts just start a few 
more programs. It’s actually going to take all of us coming together to do our part.” That means parents talking to kids 
about addiction -- early, he said. People who start drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to become 
addicted later in life than those who start at 20 or later, according to the report. It means schools implementing 
prevention programs and doctors receiving training on how to screen, diagnose and treat substance use disorders. And 
of course, policy makers must put resources into prevention and treatment programs, too, Murthy said. The report 
stresses that successful treatment of addiction requires more than a stint with a treatment program. Professional 
counseling and a supportive relationships both play key parts.

November 16, 2016
Talking Pill Bottles: Tech Assist for Low Health Literacy High Blood Pressure Patients
Research Design: Two community pharmacies serving an ethnically diverse population in the Pacific Northwest. 
Participants were consented patients with antihypertension prescriptions who screened positive for low health literacy 
based on the Test of Functional Health Literacy Short Form. Participants in the intervention arm received 
antihypertensive medications and recordings of pharmacists' counseling in Talking Pill Bottles at baseline. Control arm 
participants received antihypertensive medications and usual care instructions.
Main outcome measures
Of 871 patients screened for health literacy, 134 eligible participants were enrolled in the trial. Sample was elderly, 
ethnically diverse, of low income, and experienced regarding hypertension and medication history. In both arms, we 
found high baseline scores in medication knowledge test, SEAMS, and MMAS-8 and minimal changes in these 
measures over the 90-day study period. Blood pressure decreased significantly in the intervention arm. Acceptability 
scores for the Talking Pill Bottle technology were high.
Results suggest that providing audio-assisted medication instructions in Talking Pill Bottles positively affected blood 
pressure control and was well accepted by patients with low health literacy. Further research involving newly 
diagnosed patients needed to mitigate possible ceiling effects observed in an experienced population. (Source: JAPhA)