The Need for Speed Can Lead to Dangerous Pharmacy Errors

The Need for Speed Can Lead to Dangerous Pharmacy Errors

Misfilled prescriptions and other pharmacy errors can have serious health consequences for patients on the receiving end of a prescription. Pharmacists can make a number of critical mistakes between the time they receive a prescription from a doctor or patient and the time they give the medication to the patient, including:

  • providing the wrong medication; this can happen due to an illegible or misread prescription, or filling a prescription with a similarly-named but dramatically different drug
  • providing the wrong dosage
  • failing to provide instructions or providing the wrong instructions
  • giving a patient someone else’s prescription, often because of patients with similar names

Time Guarantees Almost Guarantee Mistakes

One of the biggest drivers of pharmacy errors is the pressure to fill prescriptions as quickly as possible. This pressure on pharmacists comes from above and below – customers who expect fast service and the employers who make more money the more prescriptions are filled.

Sometimes, those two complementary pressures merge, and a pharmacy will make promises or guarantees to customers that prescriptions will be filled within a specific time.

A survey of pharmacists conducted in 2012 by the American Pharmacists Association (APA) reflected the concern for patient safety that these professionals have as a result of the need for speed. As reported in the survey:

  • Almost two-thirds of pharmacists reported that their pharmacy offers time guarantees, ranging from one prescription per hour to 10 prescriptions in 10 minutes
  • 83% of pharmacists working at pharmacies with advertised time guarantees reported that the time guarantee was a contributing factor to dispensing errors; almost half of them (49%) felt this contributing factor was significant.
  • 44% of pharmacists working in pharmacies with time guarantees reported a dispensing error they were personally involved in, which was directly attributed to rushing to fulfill the time guarantee.

The APA as well as 89% of the survey respondents wanted to ban time guarantees due to the risk such promises had on patient safety. As the APA put it, “In the end, the unrushed pharmacist will be the accurate pharmacist, and the unhurried patient will be the safe patient.”

At Greening Law, P.C. in Dallas, we use such extensive knowledge, training, and experience to help individuals and families who have suffered because a pharmacy has breached its duty of care to its patients and misfiled prescriptions. If you have questions or concerns regarding misfiled prescriptions or other pharmaceutical errors, please give attorney Robert Greening a call at (972) 934-8900 or fill out our online form to arrange for your free initial consultation.