3. Frequently Asked Questions

Why are the labels changing?

Patients often have a difficult time reading and understanding medication labels, especially those with low health literacy.  Your pharmacy system is participating in a project called Adopting Patient-Centered Prescription Medication Labels in Wisconsin.  The main purpose of the project is to implement improved labels based on the Unites States Pharmacopeia’s national guidelines. 

You can read more about the background of this project here.


What is Health Literacy?

Health literacy is defined by the Institute of Medicine as the degree to which people can obtain, process and understand the basic health information and services they need to make appropriate health care decisions.  According to the IOM, 77 million Americans have limited health literacy, and the majority of Americans have a difficult time using health information and services. [1]


What are the USP Chapter 17 Guidelines?

The USP developed the standards to address patient safety and health literacy in the pharmacy setting. The USP Chapter 17 guidelines were developed from an initiative led by the Institute of Medicine to improve health literacy.   These include recommendations on font style and size, white space, placement of critical information, and using clear instructions for use.

The USP Chapter 17 guidelines can be downloaded here.


Why aren’t all the standards listed by the USP being implemented in this project?

There are a few of the standards that are beyond the scope of this pilot project.  For example, the standards recommend listing the indication for use.  While the provider may list an indication in the electronic health records, some labeling software cannot access this information, and so it cannot be directly transferred to the label.  This would require a manual entry at the pharmacy, which takes a lot of time. In addition, listing an indication on a medication label can have confidentiality ramifications, and pharmacists may be reluctant to place the indication on the label unless it is explicitly written in the instructions for use.  


How can I learn more about this project, or provide feedback?

We would like to hear from you!  Please contact the Pharmacy Labeling Project Coordinator at lauren@wisconsinliteracy.org or Steve Sparks, Director of Wisconsin Health Literacy at steve@wisconsinliteracy.org.