Latebreakers: Study: High workload, technology, alert systems increase med errors

May 7, 2007

Latebreakers Study: High workload, technology, alert systems increase med errors

High workload and unexpected consequencesfrom technologies that assist pharmacists infilling prescriptions and provide alerts aboutpossible drug interactions increase the potentialfor medication errors, according to a newstudy published in Medical Care and funded inpart by AHRQ.

Researchers reviewed datasubmitted to insurance companies from 672pharmacies in 18 metropolitan regions thatfilled an average of 18,000 Rxs from January toMarch 2003, or 1,375 prescriptions per week.During that time, the average number ofpotential drug/drug interactions dispensed byeach pharmacy was 32.1. The pharmacy employedan average of 1.2 pharmacists for eachhour the store was open, and each R.Ph. filledan average of 14.1 Rxs per hour.

The risk of dispensingpotentially harmful combinations ofmedications that could result in a drug interactionincreased by 3% for each additional Rxfilled per hour. The study also found that telephone,Internet, and fax systems were associatedwith an increase in the number of Rxs dispensedfor medications that could interact.