In its December 16 issue, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) shared a report that unit-dose packages of Curad’s petroleum jelly were mixed up with those of triple antibiotic ointment, resulting in the wrong product being applied to an infant in intensive care. (Not sure which one should have been applied!)
ISMP suggested that the brand’s tag line, “We help heal,” may have been misleading. It also stated that, in general, using a brand logo bigger than the product name should be “avoided.” (I have heard medical product packagers lament the use of prominent logos, fearing that they might dwarf important information.)
Looking at a picture of the two packages, I agree that the two are pretty similar. I wonder, though, if using the same colors and the same uppercase font for the product name contributed to the mix up, too?
Changing coloring, though, may not be an easy—or desired—fix. Companies do strive for brand consistency, and the company achieves it, even down to its Web site, whose colors match the packages (or vice versa). The product names could have been in different colors to stand out from one another, but this, too, may not be the desired approach. Multiple-color printing does cost more.
The easiest fix seems to be to use upper and lowercase lettering (in each word) to provide enough of a distinction. The important thing is to make the eye of a busy nurse take note of some difference and prompt the nurse to read the package—a feat that may not always happen in busy environments.