As a trusted pillar of the medical community, patients look to their pharmacists to provide them with the correct medication at the correct dosage. In the United States, dispensing errors account for a huge portion of medication errors, and medication errors are a leading cause of mortality. This is why it’s essential for pharmacies and pharmacists to find ways to minimize the risk of dispensing errors.
The unfortunate truth is that most of these dangerous and sometimes deadly issues result from human error. Pharmacists are only human and stress, long hours, disorganization, and distraction can (and do) contribute to the errors they are likely to make when doling out medication to their patients. Add to this that the average pharmacy distributing 250 prescriptions per day is likely to make about 4 mistakes during that time and you’ll start to better understand the need for more stringent protections against dispensing errors.
To lower the chances of a mistake happening in your own pharmacy, we suggest making use of these 4 tips for reducing human error in any pharmacy.
Ensure the prescription was entered correctly
Omissions and inaccuracies in transcribing a prescription account for about 15% of all dispensing errors; using consistent and reliable methods for inputting prescriptions to the system can minimize this. To do this, use at least two patient identifiers to help spot look-alike and sound-alike prescriptions that might be entered incorrectly into the computer. You should also information like the age of the patient, their allergies, concomitant medications, contraindications, and therapeutic duplications to avoid other errors.
If in doubt, confirm
A pharmacist in a rush will often guess at illegible or incomplete prescriptions, assuming they know what might be written. However, nonstandard abbreviations, acronyms, or call-in prescriptions are where most pharmacists make the worst dispensing errors. If you receive a prescription that gives you pause, take the time to call the prescribing doctor to confirm what they wanted the patient to take and at what dosage.
Consider pharmacy dispensing robots
Pharmacy dispensing robots can remove much of the human error involved in counting out and doling out medication. These robots safeguard the patient and improve efficiency by helping to eliminate the risk of human error. They use numerous safeguards to ensure the correct medication at the right dosage is being dispensed and they also help minimize the risk of contamination that can result from pharmaceutical dust. They also help free up valuable time for pharmacists, allowing them to spend more time counseling patients and performing high-level clinical duties.
Organize your workplace
The simplest solution can often be the most effective. In this case, working in a cluttered and disorganized workspace can be the cause of many preventable errors. Things like proper lighting, ample counter space, and comfortable working temperature and humidity can help facilitate pharmacy employees to work safer and smarter. Organization in the workflow can also be extremely beneficial in preventing dispensing errors. Developing a consistent routine for entering, filling, and confirming prescriptions will help prevent mistakes, as will only working with one drug product at a time.
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