Trusted. Respected. Knowledgeable.

How can pharmacists avoid medication errors?

On Behalf of | Mar 29, 2023 | Pharmacists

As a pharmacist, you have undergone extensive training and education before assuming your role in healthcare. However, even the most knowledgeable and skilled pharmacy professional can make mistakes from time to time.

In order to avoid common medication errors, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals must remain vigilant at all times. The following are a few strategies you can use to minimize your chance of making a harmful patient error.

Understanding the five rights

In order to dispense medication accurately, medical staff must be fully aware of the five rights. This concept refers to confirmation of the right patient, drug, dose, time, and route, which must take place before medication is actually administered to the patient. Taking time to verify all five of these principles can help hospitals and clinics overcome common medication errors.

For example, knowing the exact dose a patient requires can help staff avoid misunderstanding illegible handwriting on prescriptions. On the other hand, confirming the identity of the patient before dosing can prevent staff from mixing up different drugs with similar-sounding names. Each hospital, clinic, and pharmacy should establish its own methods for tracking the five rights and ensuring staff provides medication accurately.

Other tips to avoid common prescription errors

Medical professionals should read back prescriptions upon receiving them to ensure accuracy. For instance, a nurse can re-read the details of the prescription in the presence of the prescribing doctor to ensure it is accurate. Documentation of drug administration is equally important, as it creates a verifiable record that other staff members can review.

For the best results, pharmacists and other healthcare staff should use a combination of processes to avoid making medication errors. Due diligence is crucial in all medical settings, as it greatly reduces the risk of inaccuracy.