Beware of the Drive-Through

The drive-through, an American institution, is now under fire. With many Americans unwilling to get out of their cars - banks, restaurants and even Las Vegas chapels have made it easy for people to be as lazy as they want for the sake of convenience. Inevitably, problems occur. Who hasn't found that their Big Heart Attack was missing when they got home or The King did it his own way? However, people contemplating picking up their (legal) drugs from the drive-through, or even going to a place that has one, might want to think again. They could be jeopardizing their safety. A new study indicates that pharmacists who work at locations with drive-through windows believe the extra distractions associated with window service contribute to processing delays, reduced efficiency and even dispensing errors. According to the survey, published in a recent issue of the International Journal for Quality in Health Care, pharmacists attributed dispensing errors (average response of 3.2 on a 5 scale) and communication errors (average response of 3.3) to the presence of a drive-through window. In addition, the pharmacists perceived a reduction in efficiency and prescription processing. Even with stringent internal quality controls, pharmacists nationally make an estimated 5.7 errors per 10,000 prescriptions processed, according to the study, which translates to more than 2.2 million dispensing errors each year. Furthermore, pharmacists attributed about 80 percent of dispensing errors to cognitive problems that could be associated with various disruptions that interfere with their work. The study's lead author, Sheryl Szeinbach, a professor of pharmacy practice and administration at Ohio State University, says the findings suggest that consumers should always check the prescription medications they pick up at a pharmacy to confirm they received the right medicine. The study also pointed out that automated dispensing systems that count tablets or, in some high-volume practices, are linked to the pharmacy computer system so they can complete the entire dispensing process may remedy some of these mistakes. BS
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