People often seem to care more about whether their fast-food order is mixed up than if they get the wrong prescription medication, according to pharmacist Matthew Grissinger, RPh, FISMP, FASCP. They just want to get in and out fast, and never have any questions.
“People aren’t asking questions as it is, that itself has to change,” says Grissinger, the director of error reporting programs at the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP), a non-profit devoted to preventing medication errors.
But by asking questions – starting in the prescriber’s office – people can help prevent rare but potentially deadly medication errors, and make sure they’re using their medication in the safest and most effective way. In fact, the ISMP calls patients “the last line of defence in preventing medication errors.”
If pharmacists seem too busy to answer questions, that should be a big red flag, says Michael T. Rupp, PhD, FAPhA, a professor of pharmacy.
“Find a pharmacy that is well-organised, well-managed and is adequately staffed for the volume of prescriptions it does,” Dr Rupp says. “It should run like a well-oiled machine and staff should never appear frazzled, frantic or fatigued. Even a competent and conscientious pharmacist is challenged to provide quality care in a flawed practice setting.”