Study Finds Pharmacist Workload Affects Error Rate

Pharmacists are more likely to make errors when they have more orders to fill, a new study found.

The study, published in American Journal of Health-Systems Pharmacy, was authored by researchers from the University of Houston College of Pharmacy and pharmacists at Houston Methodist Hospital. The researchers reviewed medication errors that happened over a one-year period at a tertiary care medical center. From July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012, there were 92 medication errors that occurred during order verification, out of 1.9 million medication orders filled by 50 different pharmacists.

According to the study, there was a direct correlation between the number of orders that a pharmacist verified per shift and the number of pharmacy errors that occurred. The researchers found an error rate of 4.87 errors per 100,000 verified orders overall, but when more than 400 orders per shift per pharmacist were verified, the error rate increased significantly.

The researchers found that pharmacists who had worked at the medical center for a longer time period had a lower error rate, and pharmacists with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree committed fewer errors than those with a Bachelor of Science degree. Overall, 31 of the 50 pharmacists included in the study committed at least one medication mistake during the year studied.

Pharmacy errors are more common than many people realize, and the pharmacy error rate in Florida and other states is far too high. If you or a loved one was injured by a medication mistake, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact an attorney to learn more about your rights.