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Pennsylvania medication errors and role of pharmacy

In a five year period in Pennsylvania, more than 500 medication errors occurred while an in-house pharmacy was closed. Many pharmacies have gone to on-site 24-hour services, but safeguards still need to be in place to prevent mix-ups in medications from occurring.

It is important that patients do not use medications incorrectly that can result in harm. Risk reduction strategies can be implemented if such pharmacies are proactive in making sure that such mistakes are not made.

The most common type of errors reported in Pennsylvania would include:

  • Wrong drug or dosage prescribed
  • Drug omissions (the drug was not available to be picked up)
  • Delays in filling out or refilling of the prescription

Such medication errors should not be occurring at all. Unfortunately, what we have seen is that many such errors already occur because of miscommunication errors between the pharmacy and medical providers.

It's not difficult the damage and injury that can occur when a medication mistake is made. For example, when an incorrect medication is administered that medication may be treating symptoms that do not exist. Blood pressure or heart rates may be reduced or elevated to dangerous levels. If a dosage mistake is made, a patient may suffer some sort of acute toxicity if too much medication is given, and the symptoms that the medication was meant to cure may continue if too low of a medication is given.

Most such errors could be easily corrected with our modern technology and our access to computers and medical databases. When doctors or pharmacies make such mistakes they need to be held accountable by injured patients and their attorneys.

Source: MarketWatch, "Pennsylvania Hospital Data Shows Increased Likelihood of Medication Errors When In-House Pharmacy is Closed," March 1, 2012

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