Physicians, Insurers Join to Promote Safer Prescribing Practices

More Than 50,000 California Physicians Will Receive Patient Safety Document

Mar 28, 2002, 00:00 ET from California Medical Association

    SACRAMENTO, Calif., March 28 /PRNewswire/ -- As part of an ongoing
 campaign to promote patient safety, the California Medical Association (CMA)
 and a group of liability insurers today announced that they are sending to
 more than 50,000 physicians, Safe Medication Principles, which are
 recommendations for safe prescribing, and measures for educating patients
 about proper medication use.
     The Safe Medication Principles were developed by physicians and risk
 managers representing the 35,000-member CMA and three physician-sponsored
 professional liability insurers, MIEC, NORCAL and SCPIE, which collectively
 insure most California physicians. The document introduced today encourages
 physicians to be sure that their patients understand the proper use and
 potential side effects of their medicine.
     Statewide dissemination of the Principles is part of a new, focused
 program by the CMA and the liability insurers to increase patient awareness
 about what they and their physicians can do to prevent adverse medication
 reactions and generally improve patient safety.
     Based on recommendations from a number of medical and liability experts,
 the principles are reminders of good medical practices, which many prudent
 physicians already follow. They are part of an overall effort to reduce
 patient injuries, which may be caused by illegible handwriting, unclear
 prescription information, duplication of prescription drugs, and inadequate
 patient understanding about the medications they take.
     To ensure that prescriptions are clear to pharmacists, the Principles
 emphasize the use of legible, standardized abbreviations and terminology on
 prescriptions, improved documentation of medications and refills, and close
 monitoring of the effectiveness and potential side effects of prescribed
 drugs. Physician awareness of all pharmaceuticals and other substances such as
 herbs and food supplements that their patients receive is an important step
 toward reducing potential patient injuries.
     Improving patient adherence to medication advice and reducing the risks of
 adverse reactions require a strong partnership between patients and their
 physicians, said John Whitelaw, MD, President of the California Medical
 Association.  The Safe Medication Principles, with which many physicians
 already are familiar, provide a framework for involving patients, physicians,
 nurses, pharmacists and others in a meaningful collaboration to improve
 patient safety," he said.
     To link to the Principles, go to CMA's website at You'll
 find them under "For Your Information" on the home page.
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SOURCE California Medical Association