Push To Fill Prescriptions Faster Can Add to Errors
Corporate policies for pharmacies -- "such as allowing or encouraging pharmacists to fill hundreds of prescriptions daily and rewarding fast work -- can contribute to errors" in prescription type or dosage, according to a USA Today investigation.
The investigation examined policies and alleged errors at Walgreens and CVS, including lawsuits and pharmacy board disciplinary actions in 10 states. Walgreens and CVS together fill nearly one-third of all prescriptions nationwide.
USA Today found that in cases of alleged errors, "[s]ome common factors emerged," including "too many prescriptions" and "too few pharmacists"; an emphasis on speed; a reliance on technicians, who have less training than pharmacists; pharmacist incentive awards for increasing prescription volume; and a failure to offer or provide face-to-face counseling for most customers, which is required in all but two states.
In response to the investigation, Walgreens said that it has spent close to $1 billion over the last 10 years on safety training and technology, which "shows how seriously we take our responsibility to be error-free," according to the company. The goal of the investment is to "take out the possibility of human error as much as possible and have a zero error rate," the company said. CVS said that it has reduced errors to a "small fraction of 1%," and that rate is "continuing to decline," according to Papatya Tankut, the company's vice president for pharmacy professional affairs (McCoy/Brady, USA Today, 2/12).