Circulation 81,489 • Volume 22, No. 3 • Fall 2007   Issue PDF

Labeling Syringes

Greg Allen, MD, FRCPC

To the Editor


I write in response to the letter by Dr. John Beauregard (APSF Newsletter, Spring 2007) about labeling medications. Recently the Washington State Department of Health cited our hospital because we (the anesthesiologists) do not label syringes of propofol. We are an MD-only anesthesia group that draws up and administers our own drugs, we lock the syringed in a Pyxis so they are constantly under our control, and we do our own cases “start to finish.”

The inspectors cited JCAHO standards and NPSG Requirement 3D, which refers to the labeling of “high alert” medications. These regulations do not endorse the ASA Standards on Labeling of Pharmaceuticals for Use in Anesthesiology or the ASTM color coded label system we use currently. Instead, JCAHO Standard MM4.30 must be adhered to (drug name, strength, and amount). I contacted JCAHO and received the following e-mail reply on July 5, 2007:

The National patient safety goals are very specific with regards to what must be included in the labeling of medications on and off the sterile field. Color coding, etc., are not now nor were they ever allowed under this goal. Membership on the Sentinel Event advisory council that does the research and development of the goals does include the ASA.

We have 45 days to comply with the DOH. There is no appeal process.

Greg Allen, MD, FRCPC
Olympia, WA