A couple of articles on medication errors worth reading

The entire June issue of the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology (BJCP)  is dedicated to medication errors. It’s worth your time to browse all the articles, but the two below were of particular interest to me.

Agrawal A. Medication errors: prevention using information technology systems. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 2009 ;67(6):681-686.
The article covers all the usual suspects when it comes to reducing medication errors via technology. Technologies discussed include CPOE, barcoding, BCMA, medication reconciliation, personal health records, automated dispensing cabinets and decision support systems. No great amount of detail was presented, but the article is well referenced. The entire abstract can be found here.

Cheung K, Marcel L. Bouvy, Peter A. G. M. De Smet. Medication errors: the importance of safe dispensing. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 2009 ;67(6):676-680.
The article discusses several strategies for reducing dispensing errors, including barcoding and automated carousels. For each strategy presented, the authors provide some level of support found in the literature. The article is worth adding to your collection. The entire abstract can be found here.

One final item worth mentioning is a brief editorial written by J K Aronson, the President of the British Pharmacological Society. In it he states “Computerized systems can contribute to prevention as well as detection, but they are expensive and can generate their own forms of error. Simpler and cheaper methods are available and should be widely implemented. For example, error reporting is important in both detection and prevention, and pharmacovigilance has a role to play. However, chief among the preventive methods is education.” – I find this statement both insightful and accurate.

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