Utah bill: Should your health problems be listed on your pill bottles?
Emergency medicine • Utah bill would encourage pharmacists to add a diagnosis to prescription labels to aid emergency responders.
Published: February 25, 2013 10:58AM
Updated: March 21, 2013 05:52PM

A bill to encourage pharmacists to add patient diagnoses to prescription labels cleared its first legislative hurdle on Monday.

Sponsoring Sen. Pat Jones, D-Holladay, pitched SB203 as an educational tool to arm paramedics and emergency rooms with information they need to care for unresponsive patients. It’s backed by emergency responders who say many of today’s drugs are used for a diverse array of conditions.

“If we’re called to a patient who is elderly and unconscious and there’s no one around to give a good [medical] history, we go to the big box of medications that inevitably a patient has and sort through the clues,” said Salt Lake City Fire Capt. Tony Allred. “If we find something like neurontin, which can be taken for a seizure disorder or basic nerve pain, knowing which sends us in different [treatment] directions.”

Jones acknowledged there will be instances where patients don’t want to disclose private health information on pill bottles.

That’s why SB203 is voluntary, she said. The bill would direct Utah’s Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing to promote “better labeling” practices on its pharmacy licensing web site. Cedar City Republican Sen. Evan Vickers, a pharmacist, voted for the bill but suggested it be amended to put the onus on doctors.

“As a practicing pharmacist, I can tell you we typically label as the prescriber labels it. If it says, ‘Take one a day,’ we put, ‘One a day’ on the label,” Vickers said.

With the Senate Health and Human Services Committee’s unanimous endorsement, the bill now heads to the Senate floor.