10 Ways to Reduce Medication Errors at Your Pharmacy

Last updated Dec 6, 2022 | Pharmacy Management, Pharmacy News

Medication errors have the potential to occur frequently and when we least expect them. Whether it be human error involved in filling the prescription or dispensing it, they can happen at any stage in the process. Below we are going to discuss ways to reduce medication errors at your pharmacy.

1. Avoid Multitasking

Juggling multiple tasks such as answering phone calls while handling drop-offs and also filling medication all at once may be “efficient” but can cause errors. One way to avoid multitasking would be to delegate each member of the team certain roles that they would each be responsible for. 

2. Reduce Stress

Time and time again we hear how the pharmacy profession, especially community pharmacy roles, is extremely stressful. Increasing workloads, extra hours with pay that does not match, all combined with no breaks is a recipe for disaster. Finding ways to reduce stress within your day, will be key to focusing on the tasks at hand and helping your customers to the best of your ability. Whether this is adding a technician to your team, allowing college interns, adding a coffee maker to the pharmacy – anything that will bring calmness and peace to your day, consider implementing it.

3. Organize Storage

 There are several drugs that lookalike and soundalike. It’s important to ensure that they are either stored away from each other or that there is a distinct way to differentiate them. Properly organizing medication bottles in a systematic manner where the label is visible may be a good idea.

4. Verify Orders

Mistakes can be made when prescriptions are called in by phone and not verified. It is important to repeat the order back to ensure that everything written down was heard correctly. Don’t be afraid to ask the healthcare provider on the other line to slow down or repeat things if necessary. 

5. Trust Yourself

It is always important to trust your gut when practicing in the healthcare profession because your license is on the line. When you receive a script and something doesn’t seem right, dig deeper and call the prescriber or question the patient. Sometimes mistakes are made and other times clarification is needed about why something has been prescribed.

6. Declutter and Keep the Work Area Clean

Try to put things back where they belong, especially medications pulled off of shelves. Keep every patient’s medication and prescription separate to avoid mixing them up. Clear the counter and avoid leaving open drinks and food near prescriptions and medications. 

7. Invest Time in Speaking to the Patient

Involve the patient and converse with them. When the patient comes to pick up their medication, taking a minute or two to ask them questions can help catch any errors before handing them a medication. Ask them what they are looking for, if they have any questions and if they are picking up for themselves or a family member. Providing counseling can help ensure that patients understand how to take their medication, possible side effects and what they are taking the medication for. 

8. Consider the Age of Your Patient

Always check the patient’s age and keep in mind their body weight too. It is important to ensure that the dose is correct. Children and the geriatric population tend to be sensitive to medications so you need to derive the correct dose for them. 

9. Consider Liver and Kidney Function

Medication errors can also occur when liver and renal function are not considered. Patients with liver and renal dysfunction need dose adjustments otherwise toxicity can occur. 

10. Consider Allergies

Communicate with patients to record any known drug allergies in the system. Dispensing a drug that the patient has an allergy to can cause severe side effects to the patient that were potentially avoidable. Be sure to review the patient chart and ask for any known allergies. 

 

We hope this list is helpful in reducing errors and creating as stress free workflow as possible at your pharmacy.

 

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