A Healthier Wisconsin

Adopting Patient-Centered Prescription Labels

Developing a patient-friendly prescription medication label statewide

Full Project Name:Adopting Patient-Centered Prescription Medication Labels in WisconsinPrimary Community Organization:Wisconsin Literacy, Inc.Primary Academic Partner:Kenneth G. Schellhase, MD, MPH, Family and Community MedicineAward Amount:$255,600
Award Date
Project Duration:24 months

Project Description Narrative:

Studies show that nearly half of adults taking medications misunderstand one or more dosage instructions. This is especially problematic for those with low health literacy. Because medication label formats differ widely from pharmacy to pharmacy, confusing label language and layout have been shown to cause medication misuse and patient errors, leading to increased hospital and emergency room visits, health decline and even death. Project partners aimed to design a patient-centered prescription label using language that is easily understandable for all and not open to misinterpretation.

Community partners: Hayat Pharmacy, Hometown Pharmacy, UW Health Pharmacies, UW-Madison and UGA College of Pharmacy, Medical College of Wisconsin School of Pharmacy, Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin, UW Center for Patient and Community Engagement (WI Network for Research Support), Michael Wolf, PhD, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:

  • Developed and designed standards to ensure all descriptions on prescription medication labels to reduce misinterpretation on how to take the medications
  • Led adoption of new labels with five pharmacy partners, documenting use at nearly all 61 pharmacy sites. An estimated 216,500 patients have received new labels for 1,880,000 prescriptions annually. All participating pharmacy organizations plan to continue use of new labels
  • Documented findings at one pharmacy organization indicating that patients& adherence to prescribed asthma controller medications (measured by calculating Medication Possession Ratios) increased 11 percent following new label implementation
  • Project partners leveraged nearly $50,000 in funding
  • Among numerous presentations, project partners were invited to the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) Roundtable on Health Literacy

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