Dispensing Errors Reduced by Scan-Verification Devices

Pharmacists and technicians can prevent dispensing errors by using scan-verification and counting technology.

Pharmacists and technicians can prevent dispensing errors by using scan-verification and counting technology.

A national study conducted by pharmacy automation maker Kirby Lester provided participating pharmacies with the manufacturer’s KL1Plus, a combination scan-verification and medication counting device. Pharmacy owners and managers were instructed to dispense prescriptions with the device for a 10-day period and record each instance in which the device alerted staff to a potential error.

The device prevented an average of 2.7 errors per week, with the most commonly detected errors involving incorrect drug (46%), incorrect quantity (29%), and incorrect medication strength (25%). The results also revealed that only 57% of participants were aware that dispensing technology with scan-verification was available prior to the start of the study.

Additionally, 72% of surveyed pharmacy owners and managers reported a significant increase in their staff’s awareness of the potential for medication errors following the trial period. The results of this study have led some participants to change their pharmacy’s workflow and practices, according to a Kirby Lester press release.

“Before we started the study, our staff was generally aware that errors can happen. But unless something significant happened, it didn't impact them directly,” stated pharmacy owner and study participant Nihar Mandavia, PharmD. “Using this technology, they got direct and immediate feedback that a mistake occurred before they moved on.”

Pharmacy errors can result in a number of adverse events that can ultimately prove fatal. In 2006, 2-year-old Emily Jerry passed away after receiving an improperly diluted intravenous (IV) bag, while in 2014, Loretta Macpherson was similarly killed following the administration of an IV bag containing the incorrect medication. In both instances, the IV bag had been prepared by a hospital pharmacy worker.

“This research confirmed that mistakes can and will happen in pharmacies nationwide, and a simple way to reduce the potential of a dispensing error is via scan-verification,” said Kirby Lester president Garry Zage, RPh, in a press release.