Hospital looks to reduce prescription drug errors

A single medical error can be fatal all too easily. Pennsylvania residents have heard of more than enough stories of such tragic situations. Surgical errors, missed or incorrect diagnoses and medication errors frequently top the list of the most common forms of medical malpractice. When medications are involved, an error could be in the form of the wrong drug being given, a dosage mistake, the dispensing of a dangerous combination of prescriptions and more. Sometimes these things happen from simple acts like the failure to read a doctor’s handwriting properly.

In Florida, Sarasota Memorial Hospital has instituted a program that puts a pharmacist on staff directly in the emergency room in an effort to curb medication errors in the ER. Because of the speed at which decisions must be made in emergent situations, the risk of errors involving medications can be high. Having a person available to focus solely on prescriptions and review them all prior to providing them to patients is one way that the hospital is trying to address that risk.

Reports indicate the goals of the Emergency Pharmacist Program are to increase patient safety, reduce the number of reactions to drugs that patients experience and also to reduce costs. An on-staff pharmacist in the emergency room can also direct adjustments to medications already given if a problem appears to be developing. This may mean the difference between a serious injury resulting or not.

Patients are always encouraged to advocate for themselves. In some situations, that may mean talking to an attorney if a medical error has taken place. Getting help after a problem is just as important as working to prevent one.

Source:, “Pharmacists in the ER could cut medication errors,” Alix Redmonde, June 9, 2014