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Overwork can cause pharmacists to make errors

New Mexico residents may be interested in learning more about some of the factors that typically cause the rate of pharmacists' errors to increase. Generally speaking, between providing counsel for patients, working alongside insurers and filling prescriptions, most pharmacists are overworked. In addition, most of these pharmacists actually receive more medication orders than they can process in a single workday. Recent research also indicates that the more orders these professionals receive, the more likely they are to commit an error.

The recent study involved examining nearly 2 million medication orders processed by 50 pharmacists at a Houston medical center between July 2011 and July 2012. Researchers found more than 90 medication errors were committed in the order verification phase during this time period. Overall, the error rate averaged out to almost five incidents for every 100,000 verified orders. The study concluded that the highest rate of errors occurred when hospital pharmacists had to process at least 400 orders per shift.

Among the 50 pharmacists evaluated in the study, over 60 percent were responsible for for committing at least one prescription error during the year. Pharmacists who worked at the facility longer or possessed an advanced degree exhibited a lower propensity for making medication errors. Some of the medications most often associated with a prescription error were the pneumococcal vaccine, the influenza virus vaccine and warfarin sodium tablets.

A person who has been harmed as a result of a medication error may want to meet with an attorney to determine if there are any legal remedies available. Legal counsel may review the patient's medical records and, with the assistance of a medical expert, determine if the pharmacist failed to exhibit the standard of care established in the industry. If so, a medical malpractice lawsuit could be filed against the pharmacist and other responsible parties.

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