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Study identifies risks of medication errors in pharmacies

People in New Mexico who get prescriptions filled at a busy pharmacy should take care to confirm that they have received the proper medication. Physicians are not the sole source of medication errors, which also arise at pharmacies. A study published by researchers in Texas found that prescription errors increase in relation to the amount of orders a pharmacist fills.

Examining data collected between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012, researchers recorded the number of reported errors from 50 pharmacists. Orders reflected both inpatient and outpatient drug prescriptions given by a large medical center. Out of a large sample of 1.9 million pharmacy orders, 92 errors occurred. Errors included wrong doses and duplicate doses of pneumococcal and influenza virus vaccines.

Per 100,000 drug orders, an error rate of 4.87 mistakes emerged across the board. Pharmacists logged more errors when they had high workloads. Researchers identified a workload of 400 or more orders per shift as the level associated with the most mistakes. A high volume of orders also exacerbates other demands on pharmacists, whose duties include counseling patients and interfacing with insurance companies. The study concluded that further research should seek to establish the workload that mitigates risks the most.

A pharmaceutical error introduces the chance for a patient to suffer negative effects and possibly death from an drug allergy, drug interaction or overdose. A person who has suffered harm because of taking the wrong drug may have cause to make a medical malpractice claim. An attorney familiar with this type of litigation could evaluate the patient's records and, with the assistance of medical expert opinions, determine whether or not there was a failure to exercise the required standard of care.

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