In December, the Chicago Tribune reported on a study, in which they sent investigative reporters to 255 pharmacies in the Chicago area to report on how often common drug interactions are missed.
During this study, they found that interacting prescriptions were dispensed more than half the time. The big box retailers faired “okay” in this study. Walgreens missed the interaction 30 percent of the time, while CVS missed it 63 percent of the time.
However, Independents did not do even as well as CVS. There were 32 pharmacies included in the study identified as independents, and they missed the interaction a whopping 72 percent of the time. Ouch!
For a segment of the pharmacy industry that champions better patient care, this is devastating news. Not just for the bad PR for the industry, but that this could be representative of what happens in many pharmacies across the nation.
It would be easy to go on your way thinking, “Things like this don’t ever happen in my pharmacy,” but are you so sure?
Pharmacy Software Safe Guard
In addition to their expansive knowledge on drug interactions, pharmacists can use tools in their pharmacy to help in this area. Your pharmacy management software should throw up hard stops during the input or final check process to warn staff that there is an interaction.
If the pharmacist doesn’t catch it and a warning never comes, it’s likely that the interaction will not be caught without incident. Therefore, it might be good to know if your pharmacy software is up to the test.
You can check by inputting test cases for drugs that will interact. To help you, we’ve compiled a list of 10 dangerous drug interactions that your pharmacy software should catch.
10 Drug Interactions your Pharmacy Software Should Catch
- Clarithromycin and Ergotamine (Ergomar)
- Simvastatin and Clarithromycin
- Colchicine and Verapamil
- Tizanidine and Ciprofloxacin
- Norgestimate/Ethinyl Estradiol and Griseofulvin
- Zomig and Zoloft
- Lithium and Lasix
- Cipro and Coumadin
- Tegretol and Tagamet
- Coumadin and Erythromycin
Catching Drug Interactions
Even with hard stops in pharmacy software, interactions can slip through the cracks. You must ensure that you are knowledgeable about interactions and that you have the correct processes in place.
For workflows that don’t utilize the pharmacist verification station, a hard stop is shown at the input station, warning you about an interaction. To override the warning requires keying in a certain number of characters. This is where the input tech should notify the pharmacist, so they can examine the interaction and take proper measures.
However, in many cases the tech or even the pharmacist will type to satisfy the software, thinking they will catch it later, and let the prescription move through the workflow. If a detailed final check is never performed, this medication will be filled and given to the patient without ever being reviewed for the interaction.
In workflows that do utilize the pharmacist verification station, the input warning becomes a soft stop. This allows the input tech to bypass the warning. However, during the pharmacist verification a hard stop is presented, warning the pharmacist and requiring a certain number of characters to be keyed in to explain the approval of this fill.
Patients put their wellbeing in the hands of healthcare providers like you every day, and drug interactions pose a threat to that wellbeing. As a medication expert it is critical that you identify and correct these threats before they affect your patients.
The Chicago Tribune exposed this as a weakness in the independent pharmacy industry. However, it’s one that can be fixed. The information in this article gives you the means to ensure that you have the right tools and are taking correct measures to impact this problem.
If you find that your tools or processes are ill-equipped to combat this problem, there are other options out there. Check out WinRx by clicking below.