I was on call in ICU that day... During my ICU night round, I ordered T Alprazolam 0.5 mg ON for one of my patients. Half way doing round, I got a SOS call from the cardio MO, asking for help cos of failed intubation, whom I attended to stat. (In fact, got called 3 times that day/night to help out for failed intubation.. Two of thoses cases, well, actually not difficult intubation, but the junior MO unable to intubate, just that the last one from NeuroSurgery was indeed difficult intubation, with Cormack & Lehane grade 3 laryngoscopy.)! By the time I reached back ICU, the night shift nurses took over already. The nurse who was in charge of the patient whom I prescribed T Alprazolam told me that T Alprazolam was not available & she can't indent the medicine because pharmacy was closed.
Me : Are u sure we don't have tab alprazolam?
Nurse : No, we don't.
Me : I thought we have tab alprazolam in our DDA cupboard? Alprazolam is one of the commonly used DDA drugs
Nurse : No, we don't have alprazolam in our DDA cupboard.
Me : Then, what are the sedative drugs we have in the DDA cupboard at the moment?
Nurse : We have Xanax, valium, lorazepam etc..
Me : Hah? Aiyoh... Xanax is Alprazolam lah... Alprazolam is the generic name for Xanax!!
Well, some of the nurses (including doctors as well) are not familiar or get confused with the name of the drugs cos most prescription drugs have different generic (official) names & trade names (also called (brand, or specialty names). And some drugs even have few trade names - different names for different manufacturers.. Confusing for those who are not familiar with the drugs. Most of the staffs here are familiar with the trade name Xanax but not the generic name, Alprazolam. (Although both are the same thing). Well, generic names are usually more complicated & harder to remember compared to trade names. Personally, I still prefer to use generic names than trade names.
Some of the commonly used sedative drugs/medicine from the benzodiazepine group;
Trade Name (vs) Generic Name
Another more important group of drugs is antibiotics. It is indeed hazardous if the wrong antibiotics is served or administered especially if the staff is not familiar with both the generic & trade name..
15% of all reported medication errors between 1995 & 2000 worldwide arise from some kind of name confusion.