Indication: The Sixth “Right” of Medication Use?
August 19, 2016 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care
Indication for a prescribed medication should be considered the sixth "right" of medication use, posit the authors of a perspective published July 28, 2016, in the New England Journal of Medicine. Computerized provider order entry systems that ask prescribers to start with the indication may help narrow choices to medications appropriate for that indication, the authors suggest, potentially reducing prescribing errors and making it easier to catch dispensing errors. Including the indication may help patients better understand their medication regimens, and evidence shows that patient knowledge of the indication is linked to better adherence to the regimen and fewer errors. Beginning with the indication may also allow the ordering system to suggest currently recommended therapies, saving prescribers time in looking up complex and sometimes protean recommendations. In addition, "knowledge of indications is key to getting prescribers, pharmacists, nurses, and patients on the same page regarding what is being treated and what outcomes are desired," the authors write. For example, knowing the indication helps pharmacists catch potential errors and explain the medication to the patient. Including the indication may alleviate challenges with medication reconciliation, the authors state.