It just got a whole lot easier to decipher your drug labels. Many patients, their caregivers or EMTs can make deadly mistakes because of the difficulty trying to decipher the scientific labels on prescription medications. The potential for medical mistakes increases as seniors take more than one drug.

State Representative Steve Wieckert (R-Appleton) had drafted legislation with the goal of making sure, without a doubt, every patient knows the intended use for each pill. Now, pharmacists can label the drugs using the common name of the medical diagnosis, like high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, asthma, heartburn or cholesterol.

Wieckert says, nationally there are 7,000 medication errors that result in deaths each year. As a bonus, he says patients can get generic drugs without having to adjust their method of memorizing which pills are for what ailment. Now, all they have to do is read the label.

However, Wieckert reminds us, the added info is not automatic. Patients must specifically ask their doctors for this adjustment. Some patients won't want that feature, in order to protect their privacy.

The bill was signed into law earlier this year, but it officially goes into effect October 1, 2006.

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