Magazine article Drug Topics

Drug Errors: The Hospital R.Ph.'S Story

Magazine article Drug Topics

Drug Errors: The Hospital R.Ph.'S Story

Article excerpt

If you were to ask hospital pharmacists about drug errors, most would tell you that they make them. Most would tell you that the serious errors tend to be caught. Most would say that they are making just as many errors now as they were a year ago. And most would say their hospital took some action, including an analysis of how the error was made, to prevent a recurrence.

Those are some of the conclusions that can be drawn from a survey of hospital pharmacists completed earlier this year by Hospital Pharmacist Report, a monthly publication of the Medical Economics Co., which also publishes Drug Topics. The hospital findings echoed, in some respects, those found at the community pharmacy level. Here are the highlights:

*More than half (55%) of the hospital pharmacist respondents said they are aware of drug errors they made in the previous 60-day period. A typical pharmacist made an average of four drug errors during that time span, with the majority making between one and two errors. As the number of drug orders goes up, so does the number of errors.

*Six out of 10 hospital respondents feel that the number of errors they are making has not changed from the total number they committed a year ago. Twenty-two percent said it has increased; 18% said it has decreased.

*The most common errors made in the previous 60-day period were: dispensing the wrong dosage (mentioned by 45% of the hospital R.Ph.s); dispensing the wrong drug (23%); not catching a drug interaction or contraindication (11 %); and indicating the wrong route of administration (6%).

*Asked to describe the most serious error they made in the past year, 36% of the hospital R.Ph.s said it involved a wrong dosage and 34% said it involved a wrong drug. Almost four out of 10 respondents said this error was first discovered by a nurse; 31 % said that they themselves uncovered it; 8% said the patient discovered it; and 5% said a physician spotted it first.

*The majority of hospital respondents (53%) said their most serious error was discovered before the drug was taken; 30% said the drug was used without any discernible side effects; 8% said it was used with minor side effects; slightly less than 5% said the drug was used with major reversible side effects; and less than . …

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