While doctors prescribe medication to patients, they have to rely on pharmacists to fill the prescriptions correctly, and when pharmacists are overworked, errors increase—putting patients at greater risk.
There are a number of work conditions that may cause an increase in errors. For example, many pharmacists are required to fill a high number of prescriptions every hour. Some pharmacists claim they have too many prescriptions to fill in one shift in addition to receiving orders, talking to insurers, and counseling patients. A senior pharmacist interviewed for a recent report explained that some pharmacists are required to fill over 30 prescriptions an hour, which equates to two minutes per prescription. On top of that, pharmacists must also check for potential drug interactions for each prescription and counsel patients who have questions about their prescribed medications.
One study published in the American Journal of Health-Systems Pharmacy showed that overworked pharmacists lead to an increase in prescription errors. The study looked at prescription errors in a large hospital pharmacy and found the number of errors increased with the number of orders a pharmacist filled in one shift. Other pharmacists complain that they are required to fill general customer service duties in stores in addition to fulfilling their duties as pharmacists.
People have also pointed to the long hours many pharmacists are expected to work. One organization reported that some pharmacists are asked to work 12-hour shifts back-to-back. In addition, prescription drug demand has increased substantially over the past decades, but the number of pharmacists has not kept up with the demand. In some cases, pharmacies now rely on pharmacy technicians or clerks, who lack substantial training. All of these conditions may contribute to prescription errors today, which can result in serious and devastating consequences.
Overworked Pharmacist Makes Prescription Error, Resulting in 67-year-old Grandmother’s Death
A recent incident highlights the serious consequences that can result when pharmacists make mistakes, which in this case led to the tragic death of a grandmother who received the wrong medication. According to one news source, the 67-year-old woman went to a pharmacy with her husband and gave the pharmacist her prescription to treat her C.O.P.D. The prescription was for a medication called prednisolone. However, instead of giving her prednisolone, the pharmacist gave the woman propranolol.
When the couple got back home, the husband gave his wife some of the tablets. She immediately began having trouble breathing, and her husband called an ambulance. She went to the hospital but died soon afterward. After the husband brought a claim against the pharmacist for his wife’s death, the pharmacist said that the two medicines were next to each other and that he must have picked up the wrong one. He had been working as a pharmacist for 24 years, and this was the first time he made a mistake. He said that the working space was “cramped” and that he had been suffering from tiredness and fatigue.
Have You or a Loved One Received an Incorrect Prescription?
If you or a loved one has been injured due to a prescription error, you may have grounds to pursue a claim for compensation. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, our Maryland trial attorneys have nearly two decades of experience representing victims of prescription errors, car accidents, and other negligent conduct. Our attorneys approach each case with empathy and professionalism, and we can provide you with the attention you deserve. Call us at 1-800-654-1949 or 410-654-3600, or use our online form to set up a free consultation.
More Blog Posts:
Prescription Errors Can Have Devastating Consequences, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, November 14, 2016.
Victims of Dangerous Pharmacy Mistakes Shouldn’t Feel Guilty about Filing a Claim, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, December 1, 2016.