Pharmacist's Bag

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As a pharmacist, your patient’s safety is in your hands when they come to you with a prescription from their doctor. Dispensing errors are to blame for over 7,000 deaths a year, due to incorrect dosing or the wrong medication. Dispensing errors can also lead to litigation that can cause a pharmacist to lose their license. Needless to say, a dispensing error can be a devastating experience for both the patient and the pharmacist.

To avoid dispensing errors, pharmacists enlist different strategies to help them minimize the risk of giving out incorrect medication. To help them, here are four of the tricks pharmacists use to minimize dispensing errors.

1. Confirm the prescription is correct and complete

A prescription that’s illegible or uses acronyms, decimals, or uncommon abbreviations can cause a pharmacist to second guess what the prescription is actually for, or in what quantity. Not wanting to delay the patient, or take the time to call the doctor’s office and clarify, can mean that the pharmacist makes (what they hope) is an educated guess, but might be wrong. When you get a prescription that isn’t totally clear, it’s vital that the physician’s office is called and clarifications are immediately documented. Also, always ask the patient what the prescription is for. While some patients dislike this, it will allow you to better assess the medication that’s on the prescription pad.

2. Make use of pharmacy workflow software

Technology has allowed us to streamline many aspects of our jobs, and pharmacy is no exception. Pharmacy workflow software or pharmacy management software allows pharmacists to streamline their drug inventory, manage to price, and ensure prescriptions are matched to correct medication and dosage–as well as so much more. The benefit of full-service pharmacy workflow software is that it doesn’t fall victim to the issues humans do. It doesn’t get tiring, or stressed, or feel rushed, all things that can lead to dispensing errors. Using pharmacy workflow software means that you will be using another element that can help streamline your workflow and protect you and your patients against the dangers of dispensing errors.

3. Beware of similar-sounding drugs

Valacyclovir and Valganciclovir may look incredibly similar, but while the generic names for these two drugs could easily be mistaken for each other, these drugs are actually Valtrex and Valcyte–two very different prescriptions. While one is to treat shingles, cold sores, and herpes, the other is for the treatment of CMV retinitis in patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. To mix these up could mean serious consequences for the patient. These look-alike/sound-alike drugs constantly pose a huge risk for pharmacists who may glance at the prescription and see one or the other. To help avoid this, clarify with the patient why they are being prescribed the drug and use both the generic and brand name when entering the prescription into the system.

4. Watch those zeroes and abbreviations

A misplaced decimal, zero, or misinterpreted abbreviations could mean a serious issue once the prescription is filled. For example, a decimal point or zero in the wrong place could mean that the patient receives 10 times the amount of medication they should in a dose. Needless to say, this mistake can quickly deadly. You can prevent this by using computer alerts or by only stocking medication in one strength.

About The Author:

Stacey Smith is a freelance health writer. She is passionate to write about women’s health, dental health, diabetes, endocrinology and nutrition and provide in-depth features on the latest in health news for medical clinics and health magazines.

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