Seeing Both Sides: The Pros and Cons of Color-Coded Medication Labels
March 13, 2019 | Strategic Insights for Health System
The debate over whether color-coded medication labels should be used in anesthesia is addressed in two articles (a pro and a con) in the February 2019 issue of the APSF Newsletter, from the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation. Two authors who oppose the practice, writing for the "con" side of the debate, suggest that color-coded syringe labels "provide a false reassurance of the content of the syringe" and decrease the likelihood that professionals will read the labels carefully. They add that the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the American Medical Association, and the American Society for Health-System Pharmacists all oppose the practice. Technology such as bar-code scanning would be a way to "offset the disadvantages of color-coding while enhancing safety," the authors say.