Medication errors have the potential to cause significant harm and the final verification of dispensed medications is essential to patient safety. There is international evidence to demonstrate that trained pharmacy technicians can safely and accurately undertake the verification of medication orders in ward-based unit dose containers. There is a need for evaluation of pharmacy technician verification of medication orders in broader contexts including the hospital inpatient dispensary.Aim:
To compare the accuracy of Accuracy Checking Pharmacy Assistants (ACPTs) to pharmacists when verifying inpatient medication orders within the hospital pharmacy setting.Method:
This ‘real world’ single-blinded study was conducted in the inpatient dispensary of a major tertiary hospital in Melbourne, Australia. Inpatient medication orders were randomly allocated to an ACPT or pharmacist for final verification, before being reviewed for accuracy by an independent research pharmacist blinded to study allocation. Errors identified by the reviewing pharmacist were documented and severity was assessed by an independent Medication Safety pharmacist.Results:
Between February and August 2014, three ACPTs verified 4718 items with 75 errors missed (1.59%), and twelve pharmacists verified 4194 items with 158 errors missed (3.77%). There was a statistically significant difference between both total and minor error rates, with pharmacists missing significantly more errors (total errors: p < 0.0001; minor errors: 1.42 vs 3.53%; p < 0.0001). There was no statistically significant difference in the rate of major errors missed by the two groups (0.17 vs 0.24%; p = 0.48).Conclusion:
This study is the first of its kind in the hospital dispensary setting, demonstrating that the overall accuracy of ACPTs was greater than pharmacists for verifying dispensed medication orders. ACPTs missed fewer minor and overall errors than pharmacists, indicating that trained pharmacy technicians can verify medication orders safely and accurately. This study provides support for the tech-check-tech model in the hospital setting.