American doctors write more than three-billion prescriptions every year.
That means three-billion opportunities for someone to make a mistake. Messy handwriting, inconsistent abbreviations ... A pharmacist's nightmare.
Pharmacist Kathryn Wesling says there are more prescriptions being filled year after year, and we need to address that situation.
Now, high tech help can close that margin of error.
Director of Pharmacy at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Jack Horn says we can increase accuracy one of two ways. We can check things more, or we can automate the process.
Instead of pen and pad, doctors now can use computers to generate prescriptions. The name is clear. The drug is clear. The directions are clear. The chance for error is reduced by one-third .
And computer-generated prescriptions are five-times less likely to require a pharmacist's clarification.
Automated filling machines are also starting to appear in neighborhood drug stores. Wesling says in order to ensure that they are putting the correct drug into the machine there are safety features built in where the barcode is scanned.
Color-coded rings and easy-to-read labels also help distinguish drugs. They're aimed at preventing mistakes once a patient gets home.