SDS Accreditation Update: Joint Commission releases look-alike/sound-alike list

Drugs must be added to lists for safety goals

Same-day surgery programs and office-based surgery programs must choose at least 10 of the look-alike and sound-alike drug names to place on their watch list of medications that can be easily confused to meet the 2005 national patient safety goal that focuses upon reducing medication errors.

The recently released list from the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations identifies the medications in two tables that address different types of organizations.

  • Table 1 identifies medications for critical access hospitals, hospitals, and office-based surgery and includes ephedrine and epinephrine, fentanyl and sufentanil, and hydromorphone injection and morphine injection.
  • Table 2 identifies medications for other organizations including ambulatory care and includes concentrated liquid morphine products vs. conventional liquid morphine concentrations, and hydromorphone injection and morphine injection. In addition to the organization-specific tables, there is an additional table that lists supplemental pairings of look-alike, sound-alike drug names.

Along with the list of names, the Joint Commission lists recommendations for prevention of mix-ups.

Recommendations differ for various medication names but include suggestions such as using brand names rather than generic names, educating staff members, including purpose of medication in order, because many look-alike, sound-alike medications are used for different purposes, and accept verbal or telephone orders only when necessary.

(Editor’s note: To see a complete list of the medication names and recommendations to avoid confusion, go to Under "Headline News" and "2005 National Patient Safety Goals Released" on the right navigational bar, choose "see look-alike, sound-alike drug list.")