Why Overworked Pharmacists Cause Medication Dispensing Errors

Posted on March 21, 2016 by Shapiro Law Group

We talk a lot about how overworked nurses and doctors cause errors, but the same rule applies for pharmacists. Pharmacists are also prone to errors caused by long shifts and quotas.

A recent study published in the American Journal of Health-Systems Pharmacy shows that overworked pharmacists made more errors as the number of orders increased. For pharmacists filling 400 orders per shift, the error rate was 4.87 per 100,000 orders. This is a huge public safety problem, as some medication dispensing errors can have fatal consequences for unsuspecting patients.

At drug store chains, this problem is especially acute. Some drug store pharmacists have to meet quotas for how many patients they have helped during their shifts. This competitive environment can cause dispensing errors. According to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, the use of metrics can increase the chances of pharmacists making dispensing errors. In a survey of 700 pharmacists, 83 percent argued that pharmacy metrics caused errors.

Patients Pay the Ultimate Price for Medication Dispensing Errors

Long shifts are common among overworked pharmacists and can put patients at risk for mistakes. It is very sad that after several decades, these safety issues have not been resolved. In 1995, a 7-year-old girl was left severely brain damaged after an overworked pharmacist confused her Ritalin medication with a diabetes medication.

The girl went into a coma and awoke a completely different person, her life destroyed. A resulting lawsuit revealed the pharmacist had been working 12-hour shifts for five days a week.

People and families affected by medication dispensing errors may have legal options in the state of Florida and elsewhere. Parents should always be on the lookout for medical mistakes so catastrophes can be avoided.

Shapiro Law Group is a Tampa Bay medical malpractice law firm with decades of experience helping victims and families recover from the horrible consequences of medical negligence.

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