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Development and exploratory analysis of software to detect look-alike, sound-alike medicine names


Emmerton, L and Curtain, C and Swaminathan, G and Dowling, H, Development and exploratory analysis of software to detect look-alike, sound-alike medicine names, International Journal of Medical Informatics, 137 pp. 1-6. ISSN 1386-5056 (2020) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Crown Copyright 2020 Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2020.104119


Background: 'Look-alike, sound-alike' (LASA) medicines may be confused by prescribers, pharmacists, nurses and patients, with serious consequences for patient safety. The current research aimed to develop and trial software to proactively identify LASA medicines by computing medicine name similarity scores.

Methods: Literature review identified open-source software from the United States Food and Drug Administration for screening of proposed medicine names. We adapted and refined this software to compute similarity scores (0.0000-1.0000) for all possible pairs of medicines registered in Australia. Two-fold exploratory analysis compared: RESULTS: Screening of the Australian medicines register identified 7,750 medicine pairs with at least moderate (arbitrarily ≥0.6600) name similarity, including many oncology, immunomodulating and neuromuscular-blocking medicines. Computed similarity scores and resulting risk categories demonstrated a modest correlation with the manually-calculated similarity scores (r = 0.324, p < 0.002, 95 % CI 0.119-0.529). However, agreement between the resulting risk categories was not significant (Cohen's kappa = -0.162, standard error = 0.063).

Conclusions: The software (LASA v2) has potential to identify pairs of confusable medicines. It is recommended to supplement incident reports in risk-management programs, and to facilitate pre-screening of medicine names prior to brand/trade name approval and inclusion of medicines in formularies.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:look-alike sound-alike medicines
Research Division:Biomedical and Clinical Sciences
Research Group:Pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences
Research Field:Clinical pharmacy and pharmacy practice
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Other health
Objective Field:Other health not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Curtain, C (Mr Colin Curtain)
ID Code:138272
Year Published:2020
Deposited By:Pharmacy
Deposited On:2020-03-31
Last Modified:2020-07-22

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