Pharmacists React to Drug Error Report

By Brian Ross And Justin Rood

Apr 3, 2007 10:38am

Pharmacists reacted strongly to the recent ABC News investigation into errors at big chain drugstores, in comments left on the ABC News Web site. "I think that story on 20/20 was extremely misleading," wrote "Lyndsy," who identified herself as a pharmacist.  Like others who wrote in, Lyndsy emphasized the pressures on pharmacists to handle many tasks at once while working long hours without an opportunity to rest. "What people don’t know is that pharmacists are ALWAYS getting interrupted" by phone calls from patients and doctors, problems with insurance companies and other distractions, she wrote. "Next time you want to talk about chain drug stores, show the other side of the counter." THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS Blotter Results of the ABC News ’20/20′ Undercover Pharmacy Investigation Photos Unreported Pharmacy Errors 20/20 Video Pharmacy Errors: Unreported Epidemic? Click Here to Check Out Brian Ross Slideshows "There are just too many interruptions to focus on the task of checking for errors and drug interactions when filling a script," wrote "Doug," who said he was a pharmacist.  The job’s long hours without a pause are also difficult, he said. "I have to work 12-hour shifts," he wrote. "There are no lunch breaks or any breaks for that matter…I feel like I’m working in a sweat shop!" A commenter who identified herself as pharmacist "Angela Valerga" said that grueling pace may put pharmacists in a dangerous position. She, too, noted the "10 to 12 hour shifts without breaks…or even access to a restroom." Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage. "I feel that some of the larger chain pharmacies put their registered pharmacists at great risk," Valerga wrote. On Monday, the national association of hospital and HMO pharmacists weighed in on the topic.  Calling the prescription errors noted in the "20/20" report "tragic and regrettable," the 30,000-member American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) said pharmacy technicians, who were involved in the fatal errors covered in the "20/20" segment, are supposed to "[allow] pharmacists more time to spend counseling patients."  The group reiterated its call for strengthening pharmacy technician training and creating a system of mandatory reporting for serious pharmacy errors. Read the group’s full statement. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores, which represents major pharmacy chains like Walgreens, CVS and Eckerd, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.  Read last week’s responses from the major pharmacy chains.

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