Calling For A “Sixth” Patient Right

The five patient “rights” of nursing include the following: right patient, right medication, right dose, right time, and right route. To further improve patient safety and outcomes, healthcare professionals and researchers at Brigham and Women’s Health are proposing a “sixth” patient right—requiring medication indications to be listed on prescription labels.

Importance of Indication

Medication indication labeling will provide the patient with information as to why the medication was prescribed, and how it will improve their health.

In general, the purposes of medication prescriptions are not shared with patients or recorded in EMRs, even though this information is crucial and relevant to quality care. However, when working toward patient-centered care, the “sixth” right, prompts better patient engagement. Patients become increasingly informed of and active in their treatment. Studies have shown that providing knowledge and advocating for patients’ involvement in their treatment leads to improved long-term health outcomes.

Improving Outcomes through Adherence

Indication labeling is believed to lead to increased adherence, which contributes to improved outcomes. According to the American Heart Association, nearly 3 out of 4 individuals in the U.S. do not take their prescriptions correctly, leading to serious health consequences and cost repercussions for patients and the healthcare system. With increased knowledge, patients better understand the implications of failing to take their medications, and be more apt to remain adherent.

Consequences of non-adherence—such as unnecessary hospital readmissions and high costs—have already prompted a rise in the advent of adherence technology. Indication labeling would be a logical next step to combat this issue.

Coordinating Care

Another benefit of indication labeling is that it will give the patient the ability to question the medication’s necessity, promoting collaboration between the physician and patient to discuss alternative treatment options. Perhaps a medication is not needed at all, and the patient would fare better without any intervention.

This synchronization of patients and providers will promote better health outcomes and treatment as a whole, benefitting both parties. The “sixth” patient right is a smart choice for patient-centered care, and will improve the quality of care and patient experience for those that use it.

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2 thoughts on “Calling For A “Sixth” Patient Right

  1. I think this is an excellent idea! As a nurse and patient, a lot of medications when prescribed often have the indication on their label, but not always. I often find that many patients don’t understand why they’re taking the medication or they simply forget. If they forget why they’re taking it, they might feel the need to stop taking it, which can be dangerous. I think it’s also beneficial for healthcare works who may have a patient who’s taking a medication and using it for a different indication. There’s many off label uses that doctors prescribe medications for. Great article!


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