Technology Helps Pharmacists Avoid Overdosing Patients | VideoJuli McDonald | 6/3/2010
When you go to your local pharmacy to pick up a prescription, you might not be thinking about a whole lot besides not feeling well. But there are several important steps pharmacists and doctors take to make sure the medicine you take home is safe.
A typical pharmacy is home to hundreds of drugs, and many of them look remarkably alike. Kevin House, Medcenter One retail pharmacy supervisor, says there are a number of things pharmacists need to pay attention to when ensuring patient safety, and that job is made easier thanks to technology.
"That`s the nice thing about technology now. It`s almost impossible with the number of prescriptions filled nowadays and the number of approved drugs. It`s almost impossible to monitor all these things without the help of a computer," said House. "Entering a prescription for example, they`ve got the pharmacy computer system which helps them identify drug/drug interactions, it helps identify if the patient has an allergy to a medication that`s getting filled, or even if a medication happens to be contraindicated for a particular patient."
The order goes through a final check with the pharmacist to make sure it`s the correct patient and correct drug, complete with instructions.
Dr. Eric Thompson of Medcenter says there are safety measures on his end to make sure that patients are prescribed safe drugs, but he adds that the whole process relies heavily pharmacists.
"The pharmacists are essential to medications because they give the people a lot more education, side effect printouts. We don`t often have time to go through that," said Thompson. "I`ll go through the biggest side effects on a lot of them, but I don`t have the full list, nor the interactions."
The prescription process has many steps from start to finish. Both House and Thompson recommend patients protect themselves by being educated and organized about the medicines they take.
House says another way to ensure safety is for people to regularly discard old medications. You can learn the right ways to dispose of medications by visiting the North Dakota Board of Pharmacy Web site at nodakpharmacy.org.