2.58 per 100 shifts. That’s the best case scenario, adjusting for the time of day of the shift, the number of people on duty, and the number of orders received. The new study conducted in the Houston area regarding medication errors by pharmacists was intended to demonstrate how workload is the primary driver of medication error. But the study actually revealed that medication errors are too common regardless of the circumstances.
The numbers are downright terrifying, and there’s no downplaying it. Pharmacists make errors at a rate of:
- 2.58 per 100 shifts in best case scenarios
- 8.44 per 100 shifts if the order load is increased to 200 to 400 orders
- An astronomical 11.11 per 100 shifts when the order load exceeds 400
The overall error rate is nearly five per one-hundred shifts, much too high. And the most frightening aspect of the study was that it was reliant upon self-incrimination. Only the medication errors the pharmacists admitted to were recorded, meaning that a few unscrupulous pharmacists could have drastically skewed the numbers by under-reporting.
It’s possible to spin 2.58 per 100 as not particularly common, but a little math shows the truth. Most hospitals employ at least three shifts a day, and these shifts will have anywhere from 1 to 5 pharmacists. This works out to fifteen pharmacist shifts a day, or around a hundred week. Best case, this is three medication errors a week. Worst case, it’s twelve.
Of course, the pharmacist is just one cog in the medication error machine. Medication errors also commonly occur when doctors order the wrong medication or dosage, when the nurse administers the wrong medication, or when the nurse administers the wrong dose. Added together, the chance of a medication error affecting you in the hospital is terrifyingly high.
If you have been injured, or know of someone who has been injured, due to a medication error, it is incredibly important you push to make sure others don’t suffer as you have. Please, consult with an experienced attorney who can help you push hospitals and doctors to make the changes necessary to make medication errors exceedingly rare.