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Some hospitals staff pharmacists to prevent medication errors

Medical errors can occur in a variety of ways, from wrong-site surgery to birth injury, but one of the more common types of medical error is related to the prescription and administration of medication. Medication errors, like medical errors in general, can occur for various reasons, but many of these causes can be eliminated with a trained pharmacist around. This, at least, is the experience at a Children’s Medical Center in Dallas.

The hospital has reportedly staffed 10 full-time emergency pharmacists to be on call anytime of the day or night. The pharmacists’ job is basically to review orders for medication with the aim of ensuring everything is correct before the medication is administered. This is particularly important in an emergency room setting. 

Other hospitals across the country are doing similar things, but it isn’t exactly a trend yet. Part of the reason for this is the cost of having a pharmacist on staff. Some have pointed out that taking such a precaution can reduce the rate of readmission and save money that way, but pharmacist review of prescriptions is still not commonplace.

Though medication errors are not always serious or life-threatening, but there can still be adverse consequences. It is still important for physicians to do everything possible to prevent them. When a physician fails in this area, it is important to the patient who suffers harm to understand their options for recovery, and how to hold the physician accountable. Medical malpractice litigation is not the answer in every case, but in some it is the best way to seek recovery. 

Source: NPR, “Hospitals Put Pharmacists In The ER To Cut Medication Errors,” Lauren Silverman, June 9, 2014. 

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