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March 5, 2021

LASA Medications: a vulnerability for the patient safety

LASA (Look-Alike, Sound-Alike) medications involve those that are visually or phonetically similar to another.  

This similarity provokes a vulnerability in patient safety because of the high potential to confuse medications' names, start an unfair treatment, and expose the patient to the effects that the mistaken treatment may provoke. At the same time, the patient is kept to consume the proper substances and doses.

The main factors that lead to errors related to LASA medications include unclear handwriting on the prescription, visual and auditive distractions, the incomplete or abbreviated spelling of names, unappropriated knowledge of the doctor about commercial presentations, similarity on packaging or labeling, similarity on dosage, and frequency of administration, lack of Control by storage team, among others.

A study made by Queensland University in 2012 reported that more than 25% of medication errors in the United States involved confusion on drug names and, up to 33% are attributed to packaging or labeling confusion.

How to avoid mistakes with LASA Medications

Have an up-to-date knowledge of the names, presentations, and concentrations of the drugs.

Write prescriptions with legible handwriting and reinforce with clear oral instructions.

Do not use commercial words.

Write the purpose of the formulation.

Recognize in advance potential LASA medication errors.

Adequate signage on storage.

Write a complete medication order.

Specify the route of administration and drug concentration.

Cirrus reduces LASA medications errors.

To avoid confusion or errors related to this kind of substance, the Software for hospitals, Cirrus, includes a section on the ChargeMaster tab to identify LASA medications.

When searching for a medication name, the name of a LASA drug will highlight with a different background color. You can also see this functionality on the Product request function, Physician Dashboard, and Pharmacy Dashboard.

When the drug is selected, the system displays the message: "LASA drug" to validate that it is the correct product.

Cirrus is being used in prestigious hospitals in Latin America and Saudi Arabia and integrates into its HIS, ERP, EHR, and Telemedicine modules the world's best practices. Also, as cloud-based Software, users enjoy constant and free updates, including warnings that reduce confusion among LASA medications.