As the number of prescriptions in the U.S. rises and the number of pharmacists declines, the increased workload on pharmacists adds stress and frustration to their work environment. And now, studies show that the stress itself it may actually increase the odds that a pharmacy dispensing error will occur.
A recent analysis of stress suggested that work pressure has four separate adverse effects on a person’s cognitive abilities, all of which increase the risk of medication errors:
- Overload. Stress can slightly increase the rate that the brain processes information, but will diminish the capacity of the overall amount of information that can be processed at one time.
- Distraction. Thinking about stressful events will often pull attention from the task at hand.
- Shortcuts. Stress may cause overworked staff to take unapproved shortcuts, such as counting pills by hand or neglecting to double-check a patient’s name.
- Regression. Under pressure, the brain will often function on “autopilot,” doing things as it has been used to doing them rather than doing them in a new, recently-learned manner.
Stress can also affect the likelihood of harmful drug interactions. A recent survey of pharmacists in 18 metropolitan areas found that patients were more likely to suffer interactions between two of their prescriptions when the staff was overworked. The study’s authors believe this was largely due to reduced counseling time, making it less likely that drug errors would be caught before reaching the patient.
Our pharmacy error lawyers can help you fight for justice and compensation after a serious drug mistake. Call Kennedy Hodges today at (888) 526-7616 for a FREE consultation on your case, or click the link above to receive a FREE copy of our report, How to Make Pharmacies Pay for Injuries Caused by Medication Errors.