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Wisconsin Health Literacy aims to reduce medication errors by patients

Madison, Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Health Literacy (WHL) received nearly half a million dollars from the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment for a three-year project ‘Reducing Medication Errors: Adopting Evidence-Based Directions on Prescription Labels’. This project is Phase 4 of WHL’s Medication Label Initiative to continue to make prescription drug labels easier to understand for people across Wisconsin. Prescription drug labels are the most tangible resource for people to understand when and how to take their medication; know which medications they use; and find pertinent medication information.

“My mother was on pain pills and muscle relaxers. The labels were not clear on how the pills should be administered (at the same time? separately? at what time of the day?). When homecare came in to help, my 82-year old mother was over-medicated on two occasions. EMT was called to administer oxygen.” This was shared by a Wisconsin resident through WHL’s favorite label survey.

Yearly, not taking medication therapy appropriately results in approximately 125,000 deaths, 10% hospitalizations, and $100 – $289 billion in healthcare costs.  WHL is working with physician, pharmacy, hospital, and health information technology leaders across the state to adopt this system change.

This project will focus on improving the adoption of a standardized format for medication directions with explicit timings, which will help people take their medication as intended. Although anyone can misunderstand medication directions, people with low health literacy are more likely to misinterpret medication directions and take medication incorrectly.

WHL is a division of Wisconsin Literacy Inc. Our mission is to promote clear communication between those who give and those who receive healthcare services. Clear communication between providers of health information and consumers helps people access health services, understand health concepts, make informed decisions, and ultimately improve health outcomes.


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