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State Pharmacy Laws State laws on pharmacy malpractice. Learn the pharmacy error Statute of Limitation laws that apply to your state. Call 877-342-2020 for a free consultation.

On-Site Pharmacists Reduce ER Medication Mistakes, Study Finds

David W. Hodges
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Partner at Kennedy Hodges LLP practicing pharmacy error, medical malpractice and personal injury law
Posted on Oct 27, 2011
Anyone who has been given the wrong medication in a hospital is aware of the dangers such errors can cause. But, it turns out the simplest way to cut down on these mistakes is to have a pharmacist on hand-even in the emergency room.

According to a study done by the University of New Mexico, trauma centers that did not have a pharmacist on staff were 13 times likelier to make a prescription medication error than those that did.

The results were recorded over three months in 2009. Without a pharmacist present to review a patient's drug therapy, 137 medication errors occurred, as opposed to only 6 when a pharmacist was on hand.

The most common errors were dosage mistakes, medications given without orders, or administered incorrectly. These errors occurred most often with antibiotics, but were also common with pain medications, cardiac prescriptions and gastrointestinal drugs.

In cases of error, the pharmacists were able to make dosage corrections before patient injury occurred. Possible interactions and drug alternatives, when suggested by the pharmacist, were implemented by ER doctors 91% of the time.

The study suggests that pharmacists can greatly improve patient safety-and while not all hospitals can afford to hire a pharmacist for every department, trauma center pharmacists deserve special consideration. There are typically more errors in emergency situations, and more medications are prescribed there than in clinics.

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