As technology advances, the medical field and the public has benefited. However, there are some technological advancement verdicts are still out on. For example, pharmacy robots are seen by many people as a good advancement. However, some view the automated dispensing machines in a different light.
While more and more large pharmacy chains are using pharmacy robots to fill drugs faster and safer, News 4 I-Team investigated how these machines work and how easily it is for a robot to multiply one mistake into dozens. When a pharmacist fills a prescription, he or she may make a pharmacy error with a patient’s drug by providing him or her with the wrong medication or wrong dosage of drug. However, if a pharmacy robot fills the wrong medication, chances are many customers will receive the wrong drugs and suffer the consequences.
How Medication Mistakes Are Multiplied by Robots
Robots are filled with medications by humans. So, if a pharmacy technician or pharmacist puts the wrong pills into the machine, the machine will dispense what’s in there without catching that error. The pills will then be placed in a bottle, and if a pharmacist doesn’t catch the mistake, many customers could receive the wrong medication as a result of the machine being filled with the wrong drugs.
“A human being has to fill the machine with various kinds of medicine and they could make a mistake. And if they make a mistake, the machine dispenses what it’s told to do,” said Dr. Sidney Wolfe at the medical watchdog Public Citizen. Although she also stated there have been several studies that indicate pharmacy robots are cutting down medication errors.
Unfortunately, there is still a chance for multiple mistakes to occur through pharmacy robots because, after all, it is a human putting the pills into the robot. Unfortunately, when pharmacies use robots, they expect that pharmacists can fill more prescriptions so they up the number of prescriptions pharmacists are expected to fill—forcing them to rush. This is exactly what happened at a pharmacy that Pharmacist Joe Zorek worked at.
When pharmacists have to rush, there is greater chance for making a mistake. Zorek said that a mistake was made at his store when an employee put 250 milligrams of an antibiotic into a cell that already had 500 milligram pills. While some pharmacy error mistakes involve dosing errors, others involve mixing up the medications—ultimately giving customers the wrong meds.
We share this information not to scare you away from pharmacies that use robots, but to remind you to always check your medication before taking it and to speak up if something looks different. If you have experienced a medication mistake, please don't hestitate to contact our firm to get help.