What Are LASA Drugs And How to Beware of Them?

A Guide To Knowing About LASA Drugs
26 May 2024
7 mins
Table Of Content
What Are LASA Drugs And How to Beware of Them?

    Look-alike, sound-alike (LASA) medications pose a significant risk of confusion due to their similar names or appearances, potentially leading to dangerous errors. This issue is particularly acute in India, where the vast and multifaceted healthcare system, with its diverse patient population, multiple languages, and high patient load, amplifies these risks. Let’s take a closer look at how amplified it is at the moment.


    What are LASA drugs?


    Look-alike, sound-alike (LASA) medications, also known as LASA drugs, are drugs that may appear alike or sound alike, increasing the chance of errors in medication dispensing. These errors are often due to visual similarities in appearance or spelling or auditory similarities in how the names are pronounced. For instance, some drugs have names or appearances so similar that they can be easily mistaken for a look-alike, especially in fast-paced medical settings.


    What are the top 5 most common LASA medicines?


    India's pharmacies, often bustling with activity and serving a large and diverse patient population, present a heightened risk of medication errors. This risk is further amplified by factors such as high patient load, linguistic diversity, and the fast-paced nature of healthcare settings. 

    1. Celebrex vs. Celexa: Celebrex, primarily used for managing pain and inflammation, shares a phonetic resemblance with Celexa, an antidepressant. This similarity in sound could lead to dangerous mix-ups if not meticulously verified against the patient’s medical profile, underscoring the critical role of careful verification.


    2. Clonidine vs. Clonazepam: Clonidine, a medication for hypertension, might be mistaken for Clonazepam, used to treat anxiety disorders, particularly in verbal communications within healthcare settings. The closeness in their names requires heightened alertness during prescription and dispensation to prevent detrimental errors.


    3. Zantac vs. Zyrtec: The names of Zantac, a treatment for acid reflux, and Zyrtec, an allergy medication, sound strikingly similar. This phonetic overlap can result in the administration of the wrong drug, potentially exacerbating the patient’s existing conditions and leading to adverse health outcomes.


    4. Amiloride vs. Amlodipine: Both are critical in managing distinct conditions. Amiloride is a diuretic, and Amlodipine is a calcium channel blocker for hypertension—but their similar names can create confusion. Misidentification of these medications can result in serious therapeutic missteps, highlighting the importance of precise drug dispensation.


    5. Risperidone vs. Ropinirole: These medications not only share similar names—Risperidone for antipsychotic treatment and Ropinirole for Parkinson’s disease management—but often feature nearly identical packaging. This can significantly increase the likelihood of medication errors, stressing the necessity for careful examination and storage protocols in pharmacies.


    What are the factors that are contributing to medication errors?


    To effectively tackle errors, it is vital to comprehend their root causes. Here are five key factors that contribute to these errors, each with its unique implications:

    1. Similar Naming Conventions: The phonetic similarity between many drug names, such as the closely related 'Hydroxyzine' and 'Hydroxyurea,' often leads to confusion, especially under the time pressures of busy healthcare settings.


    2. Comparable Packaging and Labeling: Drugs often come in similar packaging featuring matching colors, fonts, and designs. This likeness can result in dispensing errors, particularly when such medications are stored adjacent to each other, like 'Lamotrigine' and 'Lamivudine.'


    3. Multilingual Challenges: Given India's linguistic diversity, with numerous languages and dialects, the potential for mispronouncing or misinterpreting drug names increases, complicating the dispensing process. For instance, the pronunciation variations between regional languages can affect the dispensing of Aripiprazole and Risperidone.


    4. High-Stress Environments: The intense work environments in which pharmacists and other healthcare workers operate, handling significant volumes of prescriptions daily, can lead to cognitive overload, which heightens the risk of errors.


    5. Inadequate Training and Awareness: Sometimes, the training and continuing education provided to healthcare professionals may need to sufficiently emphasize the risks and prevention strategies associated with LASA errors.


    Parting Words


    Healthcare facilities can adopt several robust strategies to mitigate the risks associated with look-alike, sound-alike (LASA) medications. These include comprehensive education and training programs that emphasize the intricacies of errors and the critical importance of meticulous medication management. Another effective strategy is the adoption of standardized prescription protocols, such as employing full drug names and clarifying instructions, which can diminish ambiguity and reduce the risk of LASA medication errors. 

    Additionally, the implementation of tall man lettering helps to differentiate similar drug names visually, reducing the potential for confusion. Technological advancements, like barcoding and electronic prescribing systems, also play a crucial role in ensuring accuracy throughout the dispensing process.


    Written by
    Dr. Tejashwin AdigaMBBS
    AboutDr. Tejashwin Adiga is a skilled and compassionate physician. He is dedicated to providing high-quality care and prioritizes patient education and preventive medicine. Known for his personalized approach, Dr. Adiga ensures each patient receives tailored treatment. His motto is to stay updated with medical advancements to offer the best care possible, making him a trusted and respected healthcare provider.
    Tags :LASA drugsLASA drugs in Indialook alike sound alike medicinesLASA common medicinesLASA errors