Technician Talk Color-Coded Caps: Help or Hindrance?
In 1996 the Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) published a Policy Statement endorsing the uniform use of a color-coding system for the caps and labels of topical ocular medications with an objective to help patients distinguish between various medications, thereby minimizing the risk of patients selecting the incorrect one. The system was later approved by the FDA and manufacturers on a voluntary basis. The color scheme is listed below:
Pink= Anti-Inflammatory (Steroids)
Red=Dilation (Mydriatics & Cycloplegics)
Gray= Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory (NSAIDS)
Dark Green= Miotics
Yellow= Beta Blockers
Dark Blue– Beta Blocker Combinations
Purple= Adrenergic Agonists
Orange= Carbonic Anhydrase Inhibitors
Turquoise= Prostaglandin Analogues
This seemed like a great idea to this ophthalmic technician, as it made my job easier when the doctor asked for a particular type of eye drop. Color-coded lids also made it easy to identify an eyedrop when the patient was not sure what they were using. All I had to do was ask the color of the lid and the doctor would at least know the therapeutic class of the medication.
In January 2010, The American Association of Eye and Ear Hospitals (AAEEH) asked for a review of existing patient safety literature and medication error reports that pertain to LASA (look alike sound alike) drugs. As a part of this initiative, AAEEH is “strongly recommends that the FDA and pharmaceutical manufactures of ophthalmic solutions and suspensions consider abandoning the color-coding system that was implemented in 1996…” http://www.nyee.edu/pdf/lasa-aaeece-letter-to-fda.pdf
The American Academy of Ophthalmology Board of Trustees reaffirmed and approved their original Policy Statement in May 2010. http://www.aao.org/about/policy/upload/color-codes-for-topical-ocular-medications-2010.pdf
In May 2011, the American Glaucoma Society published their Position Statement that included, “We strongly advocate for maintenance, strengthening, and regulatory enforcement of the cap color-coding requirements currently in place.” http://www.americanglaucomasociety.net/patients/position_statements/color_coded_caps_for_glaucoma_drops
Color me curious as to what will happen to our crayon-colored caps. What are your thoughts-keep the same system, or make a change?
Submitted by guest blogger Rebecca Johnson who owns EyeTrain4You (CPOT), Ophthalmic Technician (COT), and Ophthalmic Executive (COE). She has presented over 300 education and motivational courses at ophthalmic meetings across the nation, published numerous industry articles and is the Editor of the Self Study Course for Paraoptometric Certification, Third Edition. She currently holds a position as Trustee on the American Optometric Association Paraoptometric Council. Rebecca is the recipient of the 2007 American Optometric Association Paraoptometric Special Service Award and was honored as Vision Monday’s “Most Influential Women in Optical” in 2010.