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Monday, February 15, 2010

Speed kills

Ken Lawton of Newfoundland has a point in his blog. It's not necessarily speed that kills, but recklessness. Not merely a fast driver, but a fast, drunk driver. Or a fast impatient impatient driver holding a cup of coffee and talking on his cell phone while driving with is knees. That sort of thing.

The illustration made me think of what happens in pharmacy. It isn't necessarily how fast we fill prescriptions that causes us make errors, but the lack of focus while we are filling at the speed of light. Try filling a prescription every minute or two WHILE answering the phone, counseling a patient, troubleshooting some insurance rejection and answering a technicians question...oh, and the computer just went on the fritz. Great!

That's what leads to errors, and why people end up in the hospital, or in a grave.

Robots can fill ridiculously fast...and accurately. But you start to introduce the human element in there with all that other multitasking stuff...watch out. You're playing with fire.

What to do? I honestly don't know, except this: check your own prescription meds and find out as much about them as possible. Because truth to tell your pharmacist is too overwhelmed to deal with any of it. That's the honest truth of it. Might as well say it and be done.

1 comment:

Michael Guzzo said...

You're right. Even robotic systems are dependent upon humans to build them, program them, fix them, or fill them with medications correctly. While it's reported that robots can reduce the overall number of individual errors, once an error is introduced into a fast-paced robotic system, that one error multiplies significantly. I've seen it happen myself.

It's easy now for most people to go online and learn about a specific medication, what it does, how it works, dosing guidelines, side effects, interactions, precautions, and even what it should look like.

Of course I'm not trying to shift blame from the pharmacist, but you're also absolutely right about a patient checking his/her own prescription beforehand. If only that patient (or his/her guardian) would check everything about their prescription before ingesting it, just think how many patients could be saved from harm?

Whenever I work retail, I always tell patients to please double-check their medication beforehand and not think that we pharmacists aren't capable of making an error.