Background Errors caused by the use of Look-Alike/Sound-Alike (LASA) drugs occur with high frequency in hospital departments. In August 2010 the Italian Ministry of Health passed a Recommendation to help health operators to reduce LASA errors, through special procedures of clinical management. After two years, an independent study seeking to explore the awareness of this Recommendation and its implementation by Italian hospital pharmacists has started. It is designed in two steps that differ for methodology of enrolment: in step 1 only Directors of pharmacy departments are enrolled; in step 2 all hospital pharmacists working in Health National System hospitals will be enrolled.
Purpose To describe the results of step 1.
Materials and Methods In the period 01/08/2012–30/09/2012, 250 Directors of Italian pharmacy departments were enrolled. They received a questionnaire composed of 11 questions on the following topics: knowledge of LASA drugs and the ministerial Recommendation; any LASA drug errors and causes detected in their hospital in the period August 2010–August 2012; activation of risk management procedures to prevent LASA and implement the Recommendation in their hospital.
Results 52.5% of Pharmacists answered: 100% were familiar with LASA drugs and the ministry Recommendation. 73% had detected LASA drug errors in their hospital, caused by the following similarities: 66% packaging; 14% trade name, 6% active substance name, 6% association brand name and packaging; 8% association active substance name and packaging. 58% had publicised the Recommendation in their hospital but only 22% had adopted specific measures of risk management.
Conclusions The results could reflect little interest in preventing LASA errors by enrolled pharmacists. It is an alarming situation. If step 2 confirms this trend, it will be necessary to implement a new Ministerial Intervention against LASA drug errors in Italy.
No conflict of interest.
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