While many Maryland pharmacy errors occur at the thousands of retail pharmacies across the state, a large portion of the state’s overall pharmacy errors still occur in medical settings, such as hospitals, rehab facilities, and nursing homes. In fact, according to a recent study, some hospital patients’ medical records reveal as many as seven pharmacy errors. Of course, while not all of these are clinically significant, the trend is still disturbing.
Due to the number of pharmacy errors across the nation, as well as the potential that these errors can result in serious injuries or death, researchers have undertaken renewed efforts to discover new methods to decrease the rate of pharmacy errors. One place researchers are focusing their efforts is on patients who take a large number of prescription medications, based on the assumption that this population is at the greatest risk of experiencing an error.
According to a recent study, when pharmacists, rather than medical staff, take a patient’s history, the number of errors in subsequent prescriptions is drastically reduced. The way that many hospitals operate is that the job of entering a patient’s history belongs to anyone who works with the patient. While this may sound effective in that numerous medical professionals are reviewing a patient’s history, the result is that no single person feels accountable. However, when a single pharmacist is given the task of entering a patient’s history, that pharmacist is the sole person accountable, and as a result, the instances of errors drastically decrease.