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Speed Kills: Pressure on Pharmacists to Work Fast Can Lead to Serious Mistakes

Posted on - Monday, May 2, 2016 under Car Accident Speed Kills: Pressure on Pharmacists to Work Fast Can Lead to Serious Mistakes

We all seem to expect fast service all the time. We want what we came for without having to wait. As one TV host recently joked, we’re so impatient that even our “grams” are “insta.” Companies know that their customers are looking for fast service and often encourage or demand that their employees get customers in and out as quickly as possible. Pharmacists are often under that kind of pressure too. When pharmacists act too quickly because of demands from either their bosses or their customers, tragic prescription errors can and do occur.

Many Ways Pharmacists Can Make Mistakes

Between the time they get a prescription from a doctor or patient and the moment when they hand the medication to the patient, any number of mistakes can happen that could lead to adverse health consequences or worse. Some of the most common pharmacy errors include:

  • providing the wrong medication because of an illegible or misread prescription
  • filling a prescription with a similarly-named but different drug
  • providing medication in the wrong dosage
  • providing wrong or incomplete directions for using the drug
  • giving a patient someone else’s prescription because of similar patients names

Guaranteeing Speed Can Almost Guarantee That Mistakes Will Be Made

The combination of customers who expect fast service and companies that make more money when more prescriptions are filled can lead to policies that make speed a priority over safety. Specifically, some pharmacies make promises to customers that prescriptions will be filled within a specific time.

However, in a 2012 survey of pharmacists conducted by the American Pharmacists Association (APA), many pharmacists expressed concern about how such policies and pressures about speedy service could affect patient health and safety. As reflected in the survey:

Almost two-thirds of pharmacists said that their pharmacy made time guarantees, ranging from filling one prescription per hour to 10 prescriptions in 10 minutes
83% of pharmacists working at pharmacies with advertised time guarantees reported that the guarantee contributed to dispensing mistakes
44% of pharmacists working in pharmacies with time promises reported a prescription error that they were personally involved in and which was directly attributed to working too quickly in order to fulfill the time guarantee.
For these reasons, the APA (and 89% of the pharmacists surveyed) wanted to ban time guarantees outright due to their threat to patient safety. As the APA noted, “In the end, the unrushed pharmacist will be the accurate pharmacist, and the unhurried patient will be the safe patient.”

At Parian Law Firm in metro Atlanta, Georgia, we represent injury victims exclusively, including individuals and families who have suffered because a pharmacy has misfiled a prescription. If you have questions or concerns regarding misfiled prescriptions or other pharmaceutical errors, please contact us at (770) 727-5550 or chat live online with a member of our staff today.