ISMP Describes Little-Known Risks of Providing Drug Samples and Starter Doses

March 21, 2014 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


​Providing "starter doses" and drug samples to patients can help them start needed medications sooner—yet there are risks, such as lack of child-resistant packaging, limited information in the labeling, and expired medications from failure to monitor expiration dates, reports the Institute for Safe Medication Practices' (ISMP) February 2014 Nurse Advise-ERR. While some practices have policies in place to manage expiration dates of samples and inform patients about proper ways to take drugs with limited labeling, ISMP says it has often seen reports of starter doses being sent home in plastic bags and envelopes rather than properly labeled, child-resistant packaging. Patients arriving home from a medical appointment may not think to store these medications out of children's reach, says ISMP.

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