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Poor communication among pharmacists can lead to errors

May 23, 2017 | Medication Errors

New York residents who rely on pharmacies to obtain their medications may be interested to learn that in 2016 more than 4.4 billion prescriptions were dispensed. However, research shows that the majority of serious or life-changing pharmaceutical errors occur during shift changes. As such, a study found that the rate of errors could be reduced if communication between pharmacists is improved.

Previous research has shown that approximately 71 percent of all serious or life-threatening medication errors had communication failure as a factor. However, there was a lack of data related to prescription handoffs in the retail pharmaceutical community. Based on the results of a survey, about half of the participants said that they were given inadequate information during shift changes. Distractions and other interruptions that occurred during shift changes caused some of the essential information to be forgotten or lost. About 40 percent of the participants also reported that their technological support was unable to handle information handoffs during shift changes.

The researchers ultimately concluded that the transfer of information face-to-face was more effective than information transfer through technological support. They also noted that pharmacy managers could improve communications during shift changes by providing additional education and more appropriate software that could handle the information transfers.

It is estimated that approximately half of all Americans take some form of prescription medication. Because many prescription medications can have severe side effects if the wrong dose is taken or if the wrong drug is dispensed, it is imperative that medication errors be kept to a minimum. Those who suffered serious injuries as a result of a medication error may have the grounds to file a lawsuit against the pharmacy and pharmacist that dispensed the drug. An attorney could negotiate a settlement out of court or take the case to trial if an appropriate resolution cannot be reached.