A Pharmacist Believes that Pharmacists Cause Errors

There was an article on USAToday.com which excerpted an interview with a young pharmacist (who incidentally is now enrolled in law school), about pharmacy errors. It was a pretty interesting article, as it gave another view as to who is ultimately responsible for prescriptions that are filled and dispensed to the drug-consuming public. The pharmacist, Eli Phillips, Jr., a second generation pharmacist (his dad is a pharmacist too), was quoted as saying “Ultimately, the pharmacist is responsible for every prescription that leaves, whether it is correct or incorrect. It’s all on the pharmacist. The technicians are there only as a means of support.”

His candor is refreshing and quite the contrary to the usual rhetoric the public is fed about why misfills occur. There is a lot of blame shifting, on to the public, to the doctor’s messy handwriting, to the way the pharmacy itself is laid out, to the issue of whether there is a drive-thru at a given location, to corporate policies and overworked pharmacists. I agree with Mr. Philips’ conclusion, that despite all of those other distractions, there is no one else to blame for a medication dispensing error of any magnitude than the pharmacist him or herself. There must be accountability, and if pharmacists believe that their working conditions are causally related to the incidence of prescription errors and misfills, then they need to rise up and do something to change the status quo. The American public can only do so much to protect itself here; there must be a way to restore our faith in the American pharmacist. A little honesty, a la Mr. Philips is a good start.

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