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Common Reasons Pharmacists Make Mistakes

Medical malpractice can occur in a variety of ways. Sometimes it happens during surgery, but it can also happen anytime while under the care of a licensed medical professional. A growing number of cases, though, are happening at your local pharmacy.

Every year, medication errors affect 7 million Americans. Adverse drug events result in 1 million emergency room visits. Given that 70 percent of Americans take at least one prescription medication, pharmacies across the country are busy trying to keep up with new prescriptions and refill requests. To increase speed and get through all the requests more quickly, many pharmacies have done away with pharmacist-patient interaction. Instead of counseling patients on medication use, dosage, frequency and side effects, patients are expected to refer to the written instructions attached to the medication.

Common Prescription Errors Pharmacists Make

Pharmacists tend to make mistakes such as the following:

  • Prescribing the wrong dosage
  • Prescribing the wrong medication
  • Using defective or unsafe medications
  • Not looking for ways in which the medication may interact with other drugs
  • Failure to warn patients of serious side effects

Reasons for the Errors

While nobody is perfect, these errors can cause serious health issues. So why do they happen?

  • Lack of training. It’s important that pharmacists and staff know about various drugs and how they interact with each other, but some pharmacies don’t make training a priority. This leads to errors.
  • Lack of supervision. Pharmacists are supposed to be supervising technicians as they measure, label and dispense medications, but this does not always happen.
  • Too much work. Pharmacists often work 12-hour shifts and during this time, fill as many as 450 prescriptions. This amounts to about 37 prescriptions an hour, which means they are given less than two minutes to properly fill each one. You can imagine the risk of inaccuracy.
  • Poor communication from doctors. Many new requests come from a doctor’s office written in the doctor’s handwriting—which is not known for being the neatest. Some requests come in through an office receptionist. In both cases, information can get lost in translation. Handwriting and oral communication can be misinterpreted and as a result, a patient can get the wrong medication.

Preventing Pharmacist Errors

Pharmacists tend to rely too much on technology. By taking a more personal approach and manually checking each prescription to make sure that the request matches the final product, pharmacists can catch mistakes at the last minute.

Workload is an issue, leading to stress and fatigue. Pharmacists should hire more staff to help take the load off and allow pharmacists more time to fill each prescription.

Verifying unclear information is also important. If something seems off, pharmacists should check with the prescribing doctor rather than making assumptions.

Get Legal Help for Your Medical Malpractice Case

Pharmacists are human and do make mistakes from time to time. An incorrect drug or dosage can seriously harm a patient. While medication errors can be deadly, they are avoidable.  The Miami medical malpractice attorneys at the law offices of Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein, LLP understand how serious a medication mistake can be. If you have been affected by a pharmacist’s mistake, request a free consultation by calling our law offices today at 305-371-2692.