Magazine article Drug Topics


Magazine article Drug Topics


Article excerpt

Fining R.Ph.s not the answer

A review of your Feb. 4 article "Massachusetts mulls fines for R.Ph. misconduct" has left me somewhat confused.

Clearly the board of pharmacy should have the authority to fine a pharmacist for a legal violation, selling prescription medication without a prescription perhaps being the most obvious. However, at the University of Rochester we have recognized, from our medical director to our CEO, that punishing a provider for involvement in a medical error is clearly counterproductive. It is precisely this punitive mind-set that has perpetuated systems that lead to errors.

Of the several medication errors I have had to investigate during my career, each was clearly associated with a system error, not an error brought about by an incompetent professional. The fear of punishment encourages people to cover up their mistakes. I know of few healthcare providers who begin each morning wondering how many patients they might be able to injure that day.

Thomas E. O'Brien, Pharm.D., FASHP

Director of Pharmacy-Strong Health University of Rochester Medical Center

Fining a pharmacist for error does not improve anything. After saying that, it's also true that American society is conditioned on fear-fear of law, lawyers, courts, etc. It may work. But really, pharmacists and pharmacy need help.

Doing 350 prescriptions in 12 hours with one pharmacist on duty has the potential for lots of problems. State boards of pharmacy or local or federal government should do something to help the situation. …

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