Medication Errors… Continued

A couple of weeks ago our blog topic was about patient safety. Let’s continue that theme by discussing medication errors, specifically as they relate to keeping your customers safe. 

As a pharmacy technician, you have the opportunity to be on the front line of medication error prevention, which means you should constantly be on the lookout for possible sources of medication errors in your pharmacy. For example, when you take a written prescription from a customer, can you read it clearly? You’ll remember from the Prescriptions module that hand-written prescriptions can be very hard to make out! If you find yourself with a hard to read prescription, have the pharmacist take a look at it. If he can’t make out what’s written, a simple call to the physician’s office will take care of it. 

Another medication error that might occur in the pharmacy would be accidentally substituting one drug for another one. This mistake would be easy to make because of look-alike labels, similar pill shapes or colors, and drug names that sound alike. This is why it’s vitally important for you as a technician to double check the NDC number, the original prescription, and the generated label when selecting a drug from the shelf. While the pharmacist is legally responsible for verifying the accuracy of the filled prescription before it’s given to the patient, you should do all that you can beforehand. In some pharmacies the technicians check each other’s work, which might be a good idea if you’re a new technician.

Here are some tips for reducing medication errors. Once you begin working, you might want to suggest a few of these to the rest of the pharmacy staff.

  • Always keep the prescription and the label together during the fill process.
  • Know the common look-alike and sound-alike drugs, and keep them stored in different areas.
  • Always question illegible handwriting.
  • Keep the work area clean and uncluttered.

It’s important to note that everyone makes mistakes—no one is perfect. When this happens to you, admit that you made the mistake and then find ways that you can prevent it from happening again in the future.

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