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Busy pharmacists may make more medication errors

Connecticut residents may be unaware that hospital pharmacists might have a workload that leads to an increased incidence of errors. A new study shows that the highest risk of errors occurs when pharmacists must fill more than 400 orders in a shift and that the rate of error was 4.87 for every 100,000 orders that were verified. In addition to filling prescriptions, pharmacists are juggling other duties as well, including dealing with patients and insurers.

Pharmacists at the University of Houston College of Pharmacy and the Houston Methodist Hospital recently had the results of the study published in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy. They looked at errors reported at a large Houston medical center from June 1, 2011 to July 30, 2012. Nearly 2 million orders were filled by 50 pharmacists, and there were 92 errors.

Errors were more likely with certain types of medications. The study found that there tended to be duplicate orders for pneumococcal vaccine and influenza vaccine. Wrong doses were a problem for warfarin sodium and dexamethasone injection along with piperacillin-tazobactam, which was also associated with allergies. Researchers said that further studies should identify the limit of orders pharmacists can accurately fill and help develop more efficient practices.

People who have been harmed by a medication error may wish to consult an attorney. The results of such an error could be serious and might result in side effects, injury or a failure to recover as quickly. After a review of the patient's medical records, an attorney may recommend the filing of a lawsuit against the pharmacist or facility responsible for the error, seeking damages for the losses that have been sustained.

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