4-Point Checklist of Drug Safety: From Your Shelf to Your Patient’s Hands

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Medication Error in AvondaleAntimicrobial resistance, or the ineffectiveness of a certain drug to a certain microbial strain, is only one of the many consequences that result from medication errors. Patients can get their medication wrong, but on the pharmacists’ and other healthcare professionals’ part, they can minimise this age-old and fast-growing dilemma in New Zealand.

Do not be part of the problem and include these simple steps in your pharmacy’s SOP.

1. Patient profile

As a pharmacist, it is his responsibility to know who the patient is – at least his demographics. Then to ensure that the patient receives the right drug, it should be clear what the root of all evil is. Ideally, he should know what the patient is suffering from so he can guide the patient or his family members properly through his medication/s.

2. Drug profile

Next step is for the pharmacist to check the drug prescribed and the dosing in the prescription if they are correct. Administration of the right drug will not only achieve the optimal health of the patient but it will also minimise unintended reactions or effects.

3. Repackaging

Some medications are sold in bulk; for instance, a hundred tablets sold in a single bottle. Not many patients buy the whole bottle so they ask only for a certain amount for the pharmacist to place in a smaller packaging depending on the drug’s requirement. Pharmacists tend to do this step right, until the labelling part.

NZ experts say that repacked drugs’ labels should be complete and at the least should include the generic and brand name of the drug, the strength, the dose, and the pharmacist-in-charge. An inclusion of the directions on how the drug is administered will also help the patient stick to the designed regimen.

4. Counselling

Once everything is smooth and ready to go, proper counselling is the final step (almost!). The pharmacist should talk to his patient about the drug and should make sure that the patient understands what he is taking and why he is taking it. He does not need to know how the drug acts or how the body responds to it but it will help him understand why he should stick to the regimen.

These are fairly simple and very basic notes to pharmacists but apparently, especially in the community setting, they tend to forget what (or more like who) their primary responsibility is – their patient.