Ability of practitioners to identify solid oral dosage tablets

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PurposePhysicians' and pharmacists' ability to correctly identify three commonly used oral dosage forms was assessed.MethodsA list of physicians and pharmacists was obtained from two urban teaching hospitals. A total of 100 pharmacists and physicians were randomly selected and their ability to correctly identify three commonly used tablets was tested. Participants were also asked about their experiences and views on current resources and alternatives for identifying oral dosage forms. Tablet-identification exercises were performed by physicians and pharmacists in their usual practice settings. Participants could consult the resources usually available to them for the identification of unknown medications.ResultsA total of 300 observations were made in the tablet-identification exercise (100 participants, three tablets per participant). The tablet was correctly identified in 190 of the observations (63%). The brand-name tablet, the generic tablet, and the nonprescription generic tablet were correctly identified in 78%, 64%, and 48% of the observations, respectively. Only 18 physicians (36%) and 24 pharmacists (48%) correctly identified all three tablets, whereas 10 physicians (20%) and 5 pharmacists (10%) could not correctly identify any of the tablets. The mean time required to identify a tablet was 3.65 minutes. Pharmacists most often used electronic resources (52%), while physicians relied on print resources. Overall, 77% expressed dissatisfaction with the current system and 91% favored a universal imprint coding system for oral dosage forms.ConclusionPhysicians and pharmacists failed to correctly identify three commonly prescribed tablets more than a third of the time. The brand-name tablet was correctly identified more often than were the prescription generic and nonprescription generic products.

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