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January 26, 2021: Safety Bulletin - Confusing Calcium Product Labels Lead to Hospitalizations

Calcium supplements are available for purchase without a prescription but may also be prescribed or recommended by health care providers for patients with confirmed or suspected calcium deficiency, or as a phosphate binder. Currently, calcium product labels may display the strength of the supplement in terms of either elemental calcium or the calcium salt, or both. ISMP Canada has received reports describing incidents associated with confusion about the labelled strength. In some cases, unintentional overdoses have resulted in patients being admitted to the intensive care unit. This bulletin shares incident examples to raise awareness of the risks associated with the lack of standardization of calcium product labels, as well as to highlight opportunities to improve labelling practices.  
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