I just saw an article in the AARP magazine by Christina Ianzito that really upset me. I'm guessing the interviewed person did not speak to a senior drugstore user, or senior RX patient on the new RX bottles. But I don't know. Wisconsin Health Literacy is a non-profit, not apparently connected with a university. The article says they have "worked with patients to design new labels, which are being "rolled out" in many pharmacies..."
I've been taught that what looks cool in the interview room
can bring us grief in the middle of the night, in pain, grabbing for our meds.
Who uses medicine bottles? I'm guessing the typical patient or prescription user at my age or younger is:
who needs glasses to read -may have two post cataract implants for distance
who sometimes takes medicine at night
with arthritic fingers
who is (and may have been for years) taking four or five medicines or more
For me, the best thing about the article was the easy-off cap on the new bottle. Lately I've had to double check for that easy tab container. Yet CVS is supposedly on board with the article.
At night, in a dark room, in pain, in a hurry... We may reach for our old familiar fat orange gabapentin bottle and shake out a capsule. And then our old familiar fat bottle of acetaminophen and grab a couple capsules. If gaba no longer comes in the bottle we're used to, life gets way too complicated for 2 am. Did I already take it? More important - what's this big bottle? That must be the gaba - it's always in the big bottle. (But is it this time?)
Now the gaba comes in a much smaller orange plastic than I"m used to, and it's THE SAME SIZE ORANGE PLASTIC AS THE THYROID.
This gets worse if the drug store (as mine once did) has put the wrong labels on the wrong bottles. If there's no regular bottle size for reassurance, things can get confusing. Luckily I've taken thyroid since I was 15. I went back to the store,showed them the two bottles and asked them if they saw anything wrong.
Now for the A word or is it the O word. Someone my age or older, tired and in pain, with a new RX, and with the pills labeled wrong could make a mistake. So could you. Maybe a fatal mistake.
I realize the drug stores do have bottle supply needs, but this is our life.
New, assorted color does not help. If we have four or five meds, we have way too much on our minds to do color association exercises. And NOT at night. We need clues we have learned to expect. Like container sizes and shapes. And more.
Now about reading the label:
No matter what a label designer has seen on the web and in school, SansSerif print (see the photo in the AARP article) is NOT easy to read. A famous ad man said he round-filed any submissions in sans serif type. Famous mysteries by Michael Connolly and James Patterson are in serif type for a reason. Why? It is easy to read! Alas, when I view this on line IT WILL BE Sans Serif. If you know what I can do about it, please contact me.
By the way, some drugs now come in dose packs, and not bottled in store. Never mind my attitude on that...but give us a way to keep track of the funny little boxes, since we paid you for them.
And there are pretty standard places we look for in what goes where on the label, so don't mess with that. We are sick, remember. We don't need to read it over and over at 3 am.
And do not, do not ask me to memorize and remember what tiny color symbol is for lunch time, and what symbol is for mid afternoon Just Don't. Write down 3 pm NICE and BIG.
(The article does mention important laws and also some interesting things Walgreens does for vision concerned customers.)
What do you think? Let me know.