The Critical Nature of Labeling in Healthcare Pharmacy

About a decade ago, Consumer Reports took an in-depth look at the effectiveness of prescription drug labels applied by five national chain pharmacies. Their investigation was prompted by widespread reporting on medication errors, including a report from the Institute of Medicine that concluded that about 1.5 million preventable medication errors occur each year in the United States, and roughly one-third of those errors occur outside of hospitals, where patients must rely upon their own ability to follow the instructions on their medication containers.[1]

Consumer Reports found a wide range of inconsistencies in the way that common drugs were labeled by different pharmacies, including missing and inconsistent warning labels. These inconsistencies showed up on the bottle labels and in the printed inserts that pharmacists supplied with medications.

The Consumer Reports’ investigation is backed up by other studies. For example, an Institute of Medicine report, “Preventing Medication Errors,” cited poor labeling as a central cause for medication errors in the United States.[2] The report found clear evidence that the content and format of prescription drug labels can facilitate better comprehension among patients, and as a result, the report recommended additional study to evaluate the influence of label design on patient behavior and health outcomes.

These studies highlight not only the critical nature of labeling in pharmacy operations, but also the importance of using tools that enable pharmacists to easily produce consistent, easy-to-read labels that clearly convey dosage and safety information. One of the first steps for pharmacies to take is to ensure that their label printers are purpose-built for the task.

Purpose-Built for Healthcare Applications: The ZD410-HC Direct Thermal Desktop Printer

Zebra’s ZD410 desktop printer is the smallest printer in its class, fitting easily into the most space-constrained pharmacy workstations. It’s available with either 203 dpi or 300 dpi print resolution, with print speeds up to 6 inches per second. The 300 DPI option is the perfect solution for ensuring legibility of small-format labels, producing standard 2-inch medication labels at up to 4 inches per second.

The ZD410-HC gives you virtually every modern connectivity option—from USB, auto-sensing serial, and 10/100 Ethernet to the latest wireless options, including 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1. It’s also easy to upgrade at any time, with the ability to add serial or Ethernet connectivity as well as a peeler and cutter right on site.

Designed for hospital, clinic, laboratory, and pharmacy applications, the ZD410-HC is engineered to withstand exposure to moisture and frequent cleaning with common disinfectants. And, because it’s a direct thermal printer, it helps protect patient privacy by leaving no record of what has been printed on a ribbon.

If you would like to learn more about label printing solutions that are purpose-built for pharmacy applications, contact your MSM representative today.


[1] https://www.nationalacademies.org/news/2006/07/medication-errors-injure-one-point-five-million-people-and-cost-billions-of-dollars-annually-report-offers-comprehensive-strategies-for-reducing-drug-related-mistakes

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1523445/

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