Article by Christina Ianzito, AARP

“Ever find the instructions on your prescription bottle baffling? You’re not alone. Nearly half of people taking medication say they’ve been confused by a label. In Wisconsin, for example, a survey showed that almost 23 percent said the problem caused them to take drugs incorrectly, says Steve Sparks, director of the nonprofit Wisconsin Health Literacy.

The reasons: vague instructions (“Take as directed”), tiny print and the difficulties of coordinating dosages of multiple medications. Sparks says, “You would not believe how many people say, ‘I take five medications, each one of them has a different schedule, and I can’t keep track of them — so I just take them all in the morning.’ ”

But efforts are underway to make prescription labels simpler and schedules easier to manage. Wisconsin Health Literacy has worked with patients to design new labels, which are being rolled out in many pharmacies across that state. The most important information is at the top in a large, bold typeface, including the names of the patient and the drug.”

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