The Role of the Pharmacist in Mitigating Medication Errors
Written by Berkowitz
January 22, 2016
Pharmacists play a central role in reducing the effects and numbers of pharmaceutical and medication errors. Medication errors are much more common in the United States than people realize and when a patient is given the wrong medication, a wrong dose or something that dangerously interacts with other medications they have been prescribed, adverse effects can occur. Pharmacists must be on the lookout for potential errors, since they are the patient’s last defense against the effects of these medication errors.
Strategies Pharmacists Can Use to Reduce Errors
Pharmacists can do their part to mitigate potential medication errors simply by taking the time to review the prescription and even discuss it with the patient. Even in hospital settings where there is a code, a pharmacist can verify that the proper medication is being dispensed at the hospital. Some things pharmacists can do to mitigate these errors include:
Ensuring the prescription has been entered correctly. Transcription errors account for a large majority of dispensing errors. These can be reduced by pharmacists and their staff ensuring that they use consistent, reliable methods for inputting new prescriptions and using at least two patient identifiers before dispensing the medication. This will prevent any accidental distributions of medications to patients with similar names.
Confirming that the prescription is correct and complete. Pharmacists should second guess handwritten prescriptions, especially when they are illegible or feature ambiguous language. Also, on digitally received prescriptions, pharmacists should verify the proper amounts. If the pharmacist disagrees with the amount dispensed, they should contact the prescribing physician to verify that the proper prescription and dosage were dispensed.
Be on the lookout for look-alike and sound-alike drugs. Sometimes physicians may accidentally write the wrong prescription medication on their form. Similar drug names account for a large majority of dispensing errors – and can lead to fatalities. For example, a drug for heart conditions can have a similar name to a medication for headaches – and the medication for headaches could cause serious effects if given to a patient with a severe heart condition.
Missed zeros and misplaced decimal points. Pharmacists must review every “0” and decimal point on a patient’s prescription to ensure the proper dosage is being administered to the patient. All it takes is an error with a single zero or decimal to give a patient 10 times the dose they were intended to receive.
Staying organized within the pharmacy. It is imperative that pharmacists keep their areas organized and their team equally organized. Disorganized workspaces can lead to errors and actually increase the rate of dispensing errors in the United States. Pharmacists should also develop a routine for entering, filling and checking all prescriptions as well as create a workflow order to limit the number of dispensing errors in their pharmacy.
Were You Injured by a Medication Error?
Sadly, medication errors are on the rise in the United States due to the increased volume that pharmacies and their staff are forced to take on. When you are prescribed the wrong medication or given the wrong dose, you could suffer from serious effects, or the prescription may have no effect on a medical condition. For such injuries, contact a CT medical malpractice attorney that specializes in these types of cases. Contact Berkowitz and Hanna LLC today to schedule a no obligation case evaluation. Call or contact us online to get started.