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Alliterative prescriptions pose problems.

Alliterative prescriptions pose problems

A letter in the March 30 NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE draws attention to a growing problem among medical professional as they try to keep current on the many new, chemically related but pharmacologically distinct drugs coming onto the market. Pharmacist Robert Ellis and physician Danny J. Lancaster, both of the Regional Medical Center at Memphis (Tenn.), make special note of drugs related to the antibiotic cephalosporin -- including cefotaxime, cefoxitin, ceftizoxime, ceftriaxone, cefotetan and ceftazidime.

"So similar are their spellings that they are frequently referred to as 'cephawhatchamacallums' by physicians and pharmacists, and often it is the pharmacy's best guess that determines which drug the patient receives," Ellis and Lancaster write. Among the many misspelled, nonexistent drugs they've seen ordered by physicians in the past two years are ceftatozine, cefoxitane, cefatotoxin, ceftodzine, cefotatime, ceftriozime and ceftriazone.

"We can offer no simple solution to the problem," they conclude. But "the institution of mandatory cephalosporin spelling bees in medical schools and residency programs" might help, they say.
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Title Annotation:Biomedicine; similar spellings of cephalosporin derivatives
Publication:Science News
Date:Apr 15, 1989
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