Researchers report positive findings in a new study that looked at the role of the pharmacist in
helping doctors prevent medical errors involving medications.
The investigation done finds having a pharmacist participate in medical rounds with doctors
resulted in the identification and prevention of nearly 5,000 medication errors over more than
The study was conducted in a cardiology ward in the hospital, an area where previous studies have
shown a high risk for severe adverse drug events. During the study period, the pharmacists
intervened in nearly 15,000 cases, about 4,700 of them due to medication errors. The most common
types of errors seen in the study were giving the wrong drug or the wrong dose. About 40 percent
of all the drug errors identified involved cardiovascular drugs.
Researchers associated three factors with the errors:
Lack of knowledge of the patient's
drug therapy prior to admission
Periods of transition among the medical staff
A gradual increase in errors during the study period
The investigators believe these
findings strongly suggest the value of having a pharmacist participate in medical rounds with
doctors. They also suggest two areas for improvement within hospitals. First, facilities should
develop a system to provide health care providers with accurate medication information at the
point of care. Second, interns should be provided with more focused education and backup during
their first months of training.
A recent study by researchers found as many as 98,000 deaths occur each year from medical errors,
fand many of these are medication errors.