Dispensing errors comprise any inconsistencies or deviations from the prescription order. This includes Locum Pharmacists dispensing the wrong drug, dose, dosage form, incorrect quantity, or wrong labelling. Factors that cause dispensing errors include reconciliation error, illegible/inaccurate instructions, packaging, Look alike-sound alike and many more.
In November 2020, The Science Daily carried out research that shows that in a year more than a 237million prescription errors are made in England.
These errors occur at each level, with over half of (54%) made at the point of administration and around 1 in 5 made at some point of prescribing (21%).
Below are a few tips that can help you minimise dispensing errors:
1. Ensure accurate entry of the prescription
Transcription errors account for 15% of all dispensing mistakes and are more prevalent in the secondary care environment. Transcription errors can be avoided by making use of reliable methods of confirming a person’s identity when checking for prescriptions. Checking information such as age, allergic reactions, healing duplications, and so forth can help to minimise error.
2. Be cautious with zeros, units and abbreviations
Many times, Locum Pharmacists make out of place zeros, decimal factors, and defective units such as mg, g, 0.1, 0.01 etc, when prescribing drugs. These are not unusual causes of dispensing errors.
As a result of such errors, a patient can administer 10 times more strength than the prescriber intended. Such errors will make the patient experience severe side effects. Making use of computer indicators can help locum pharmacist minimise such errors.
3. Organise your working space
Locum Pharmacists should make sure they have an organised workspace that remarkably reduces dispensing mistakes. The right lighting fixtures, good counter area, and cosy temperature and humidity can help ease a go with the flow from one task to the other, thereby reducing dispensing errors.
Developing a schedule for labelling and checking prescriptions will assist in organizing the flow of work. In addition, using a separate colour pen from the dispenser to confirm medication creates visible accountability of the check made.
4. Thoroughly take a look at all prescriptions
Repeated checking and counterchecking is an essential approach to reduce dispensing mistakes. Avoid dispensing errors, by confirming that every information of the drug is the same as that shown on the computer. Confirmation bias and preconceived notions make self-checking a bad approach to reduce mistakes.
Furthermore, having a system in place that will cross-check every detail about the prescription before approving any drug would be helpful. A locum pharmacist should have the prescription rechecked by a colleague or a trusted professional before dispensing.
5. Clarify any uncertainty
Second-guessing of unclear prescriptions, abnormal abbreviations, phrase, decimal points, and phone-in prescriptions are commonly related to prescription mistakes. Where you receive an unclear handwritten prescription, call the prescriber to clarify any unambiguous text.
You should promptly document every report that the health practitioner gives.
6. Watch out for look-alike, sound-alike drugs
Identical drugs names account for one-third of drugs mistakes. In order for you to prevent mix-up among look-alike sound-alike drugs, it is best to separate such medicines on the dispensing shelves.
A number of these errors may be fatal (e. g, taking acetazolamide for acetohexamide).
7. Routinely check expiry dates of medication
Check that pharmacies regularly review the expiry date of medication and discard any expired medicines; to minimise dispensing expired medicines. Ensure to have a system in place to record the expiration date of drugs after every routine check.
Lastly, you can simply ask patients to look in their bags to confirm that they have the correct medication before leaving the Pharmacy. In case you have enough time you could do the checking for them. This will make the patient happy that you’re taking extra care of them.