Medication errors continue to remain a problem in the United States. With pharmacists at the forefront of dispensing medications there are ways that they can minimize their risk of making an error and becoming embroiled in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Pharmacists are some of the most trusted professionals in the medical field and patients rely on them to fill their prescription accurately. Avoiding errors is important.
Some strategies to reduce pharmacy medication errors include:
- Minimize clutter. The pharmacy is often a busy and hectic place. There is insufficient staffing, demanding patients, phones that never stop ringing and high prescription volume. Keeping the counters clear, using a basket system to organize patient’s prescriptions, clear the bottles from prescriptions that have been completed and taking phone calls in a quiet environment can be helpful.
- Verify orders. For call-in prescriptions it is important to write down and repeat the order to make sure it is correct. An e-prescription should be read thoroughly, including any notes that may have been made.
- Use barcodes. Scanning barcodes makes sure the correct drug, dosage form and strength has been selected. The use of barcodes needs to be used across the system, from dispensing to administration.
- LASA drugs. Look alike sound alike (LASA) drugs are a common source of errors. All pharmacy team members need to know what they are and strategies to not make mistakes, such as using tall man lettering and separating like-sounding drugs.
- Have another person checking. Having someone else do a final check by verification of original order and medicine bottle.
- Patient education. Involving the patient and making sure they know what the prescription is for and how they should take it is important.
Taking these steps to minimize pharmacy errors can help protect the patient and minimize any legal action.