Fewer Medication Errors When Pharmacist is Present

A University of New Mexico study corroborates the findings of similar studies that the presence of a pharmacist in the emergency room significantly reduces medication errors. The University of New Mexico study found that such prescription errors were 13 times higher when a pharmacist was not present in the ER.
According to the story published in Pharmacy Practice News, “Antibiotics were most often subject to error, followed by pain medications, cardiac medications and gastrointestinal medications and antiemetics. Typical errors included wrong dose (either too little or too much), medications given or not given without regard to order status; wrong administration technique, and so on. Pharmacist interventions consisted mainly of dosage corrections, which the pharmacists carried out themselves, and alternative suggestions, which were accepted by the physicians 91% of the time.
Amy Ernst, MD, professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine and lead author of the study, noted that pharmacist intervention was simply a matter of communicating knowledge. “For example, we [physicians] use so many antibiotics, and the pharmacist will come up and say, ‘That’s not the best choice for that particular infection,’ and suggest something better.”