Reducing medication errors through naming, labeling, and packaging

J Med Syst. 2004 Feb;28(1):9-29. doi: 10.1023/b:joms.0000021518.60670.10.


Errors due to look-alike or sound-alike medication names are common in the United States, and are responsible for thousands of deaths and millions of dollars in cost each year. Up to 25% of all medication errors are attributed to name confusion, and 33% to packaging and/or labeling confusion. Thousands of medication name pairs have been confused based on similar appearances or sounds when written or spoken, or have been identified as having the potential for confusion. Systems and recommendations have been developed that may reduce the occurrence of such errors.

MeSH terms

  • Drug Labeling / methods*
  • Drug Labeling / standards
  • Drug Packaging / methods*
  • Drug Packaging / standards
  • Humans
  • Medication Errors / economics
  • Medication Errors / prevention & control*
  • United States