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Pharmacists in the ER cut down medication errors

An abstract of a study, recently presented at the American Society of Health Systems-Pharmacists meeting, indicates that having a pharmacy team in the emergency department of a hospital can significantly cut down on the number of medical errors caused by incorrect medications or dosages.

Among the 185 patients studied prior to the arrival of a pharmacy team in the emergency department, there were 1,750 discrepancies. The most common disparity, occurring in 55 percent of cases, was failures in collecting information on the date and time of the last dosage. A smaller percentage included incorrect orders and omissions. After a pharmacy team was placed in the emergency room, a total of 25 errors occurred. This is a significant drop when compared to the control group, which had 425 errors.

A major drawback of this study is its small size and the fact that the pharmacy team was only there during normal business hours, five days per week. However, it may spur a larger study that will prove that a pharmacy team in the emergency room does significantly improve patient care and safety.

An emergency room is a busy place and patients who go there are often in distress. Mistakes occur, sometimes from incorrect medications or dosages. These mistakes, however, sometimes cause long-term complications or even death. If an individual is the subject of negligence in the emergency room, an experienced medical malpractice attorney may be able to assist in reaching a fair settlement.

Source: Forbes, "Can Pharmacists in the ER Help Reduce Medication Errors?" Robert Glatter, MD, Dec. 10, 2012

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