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Pharmacies often encourage customers who receive regular prescriptions to sign up for an automatic prescription refill service. The refill process is usually done prior to the existing prescription running out. One of the beneficial features of this service is the automatic computer generated phone calls that are made to a patient, reminding them that their prescription is filled and ready for pick up. This whole process is thought to ensure continuity of care.
Automation can also assist with safety in the pharmacy. The work flow prioritization decreases refill urgency and error because patients are not standing in line waiting for their prescriptions. However, despite reminder calls and decreased pharmacist urgency, there are still complications that can cause medication errors and result in patient injury with the automated pharmacy refill process.
The Risk of Medication Errors due to Automated Prescription Refills
Electronic Medical Records (EMR) utilized by many physicians do not always communicate discontinued medications to the pharmacy. As a result, the computer running the automation process is not updated and patients can receive refills for discontinued and potentially harmful medications.
Many chronic illnesses require medication levels to be adjusted on a regular basis. It is not uncommon for a patient with a chronic illness to have three different dosages of the same medication in a two to three month span. If the automated computer is not updated, it is possible a patient could receive three refills of all different dosages of the same medication. Most of the time the patient is aware of which dose they are supposed to be taking. However, when the patient is not aware, a potentially adverse reaction, overdosing, or even fatal medication error can occur.
It is in every patient’s best interest to communicate with their physician and to ensure that all discontinued medications are properly reviewed and communicated to the pharmacy. If you have any questions about your prescriptions, always verify them with your pharmacist prior to leaving the pharmacy. Patients who are active participants in their medical care can often avoid a serious prescription drug injury.
Cherry Hill medical malpractice lawyers at Folkman Law have the experience and resources necessary to successfully represent patients who have been harmed as a result of negligent medical care. We will review your case by phone at no charge to help you determine your best course of legal action. Contact us online or call 856-354-9444. Our offices are conveniently located in Cherry Hill, Philadelphia and King of Prussia, and we represent clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania.