Pharmacy workers and technicians who are dispensing medications are a patient’s final line of defense from medication errors. Unfortunately, despite this last layer of protection, thousands of patients are injured each year because of dispensing errors. These errors are increasing, largely because pharmacy technicians and pharmacists are required to fill dozens of prescriptions each day, work long hours, and work under extreme time constraints.
At the pharmacy level, numerous mistakes can occur, but most have to do with inconsistencies, wrong dosage, or the wrong type of medication making its way into a patient’s prescription bottle – causing fatal interactions or side effects.
Dispensing errors are by far one of the most costly errors in the healthcare industry. If pharmacies take a more proactive approach to dispensing medications, the country may see a decline in the number of these cases.
Using Final Checks
States should mandate that a licensed pharmacist perform a final check on each prescription dispensed under their supervision. This approach alone could prevent thousands of mistakes each year. Pharmacy technicians – under this check system – can still fill prescriptions, but the pharmacist would perform a cautionary check to ensure the following:
- The Prescription Entry – Transcription mistakes are common and can create inaccuracies on a pharmacy level. The pharmacy should use reliable procedures for verifying a patient’s identity and prescription each time they are entered into the computer.
- Confirming Medication – Dispensing errors are often the result of a pharmacy technician guessing about a physician’s ambiguous writing. Instead of using an educated guess, technicians and staff should contact the physician and verify the correct information.
- Verifying the Right Medication – Some medications have very similar names but are polar opposites when it comes to their effects. Pharmacists must ensure that the right medication was used in the patient’s prescription bottle.
- Double Checking Abbreviations and Decimals – One mistake with an abbreviation or decimal point and a patient could take a medication at a much higher or lower dose than the physician intended. Physicians should know the proper dosage for medications and question any time a medication does not suit a patient’s age.
- Reviewing Patient Medical History – The pharmacist should also review any medications the patient may be taking to identify potential side effects or dangerous interactions.
Speak with Malman Law Regarding Your Medication Errors
Medications help treat infections, heart disease, and can even kill cancer. However, when these medications are not properly dispensed, they become just as life-threatening as the diseases they are designed to treat. If you were the victim of a prescription error, contact Malman Law now for a free consultation. Get started by contacting an attorney online or calling 888-625-6265.