Thereare many types of medication errors that can and do occur in a pharmacy. Sucherrors include prescription, dispensing and administration errors.
Dispensingerrors may be further categorised into selection, labelling and legal errorsetc... A selection error arises when an incorrect drug, drug form, quantity orstrength is selected, and can commonly be caused by confusion due to similarsounding drug names. A recent case where a six times stronger dose of the controlleddrug morphine sulphate was dispensed is one example of a selection error.
Althougherrors can't always be prevented, they can be minimised. Various approaches canbe taken, such as storing the medications in a more effective way. Manufacturersmay also redesign packaging labels to aid selection in a busy pharmacyenvironment.
In thefirst year of my course I had a dispensing error logbook to identify and recordany dispensing errors that I made. The dispensing logbook also included a miniaction plan to help reduce repeated errors.
Reflectingback to my external placement, standard operating procedures (SOPs) were put inplace and there was a pharmacist present to double check any errors.
Pharmacyrobots have been implemented in a number of hospitals and pharmacies with theaim of minimising errors and hence improving patient safety. Administrationerrors are minimised by pharmacist counselling. Additionally, computerisedprescribing reduces errors arising due to the poor legibility of prescriptionsbut does not eliminate the need of a pharmacist's second opinion.
As mentionedpreviously, although errors are inevitable, they can be reduced. Theseriousness as a result of medication errors varies and in many cases can leadto death. As a student, I feel it's important to identify and analyse errorsfrom early on in preparation to becoming a pharmacist.