The study shows that more is needed to combat medical errors associated with prescription drug errors. States, however, are helping to do their part it seems to mitigate the problems.
According to U.S. Pharmacist - a monthly online publication that provides pharmacists with current and authoritative information relating to pharmacy practice - some states have implemented their own procedures to reduce mistakes with prescriptions. Various states have addressed issues with excessive workload. North Carolina, for instance, prohibits employers from allowing pharmacists to work more than 12 hours a day. If they work eight hours or more, their employers are required to provide rest or meal breaks.
Other states have implemented dispensing rules. To reduce prescription drug errors in Iowa, for example, pharmacists cannot fill more than 14 prescriptions per hour.
Pharmacy boards in California, Wyoming, and Oregon are also taking part. All three states require prescription bottle labels to include the color and shape of the tablets or capsules so users can make sure it's the same as what's contained in the bottle.
Patients Can Help Too
Patients are encouraged to also do their part to make sure they are taking the right drug. Following a few simple steps can help reduce the number of instances of prescription drug errors. Patients should make sure:
- The information provided by their doctor - like name, address and drug brand - matches the information listed on the prescription.
- To read and understand all prescription labels and pamphlets provided before using any drug given to them by a pharmacist.
- The type of capsule or drug listed on the label is the same as what's inside the bottle.
In an era of digital technology, it's inevitable that more and more doctors and hospitals will likely start using electronic methods for writing prescriptions. Unfortunately, more digital usage increases the risk of errors. However, public awareness, studies, additional training, and tougher regulations can all help to reduce accidents, injuries and even deaths associated with prescription drug errors.