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Precautions that may minimize medication errors at pharmacies

For most people in Iowa, getting a prescription filled at a local pharmacy is a fairly routine act. However, a study referenced in a leading pharmaceutical journal suggests that dispensing mistakes could be responsible for just over 20 percent of medication errors than may adversely affect patients. While stats like this may be understandably alarming for anyone who makes frequent visits to a pharmacy, both pharmacists and patients can be proactive when it comes to minimizing errors with medication preparation and disbursement.

There are existing systems in place designed to protect patients from the type of oversights that may lead to medical malpractice litigation. For instance, certain software checks for potential allergic reactions and interaction risks so that prescribing doctors can be contacted should there be any issues. Pharmacists also manually verify medications and store similar drugs on separate shelves to prevent mix-ups. A pharmacy database is used to visually compare medication before it's given to patients.

Diligent pharmacists typically ask patients to confirm their name and other important personal information to ensure that the correct prescription is being picked up. Patients are encouraged to be equally proactive by keeping their preferred pharmacy informed about their medical history, health conditions and any medications they may be taking, including over-the-counter ones and supplements. These added details could prevent potentially serious side effects or interactions. Proactive patients ask questions if medication directions aren't clear. Additionally, most pharmacies are able to provide access to a translator or translation service should there be any language barriers.

Medication errors may be considered a type of negligence if there was a provable oversight on the part of the pharmacy, a specific pharmacist or the prescribing physician. During the investigation process, an attorney may review a pharmacy's medication storage and preparation processes, software programs and verification procedures. If adverse reactions to medications dispensed in error are severe, a lawyer may recommend seeking compensation for health-related expenses and lost income.

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