Local News

Complaints About Pharmacist Errors Up in NC

Posted September 16, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— How do you know the prescriptions you buy have been filled correctly? If you are concerned, you are not alone. Consumer complaints to the North Carolina Pharmacy Board have increased by 40%. That's why the board is "cracking down" on pharmacists and the stores they work for.

The board held a hearing Tuesday for a Cary pharmacist accused of making six mistakes. As of March the board agreed to hold stores as well as pharmacists responsible for such errors, if it can be proved that the pharmacists in question are overworked.

David Work is with the Board of Pharmacy Directors. He says the workload needs to be monitored.

Board members say pharmacists should not be asked to fill more than 150 prescriptions a day.

As a result of such problems, pharmacies and hospitals are looking for innovative ways to reduce prescription errors. One idea that's been researched is the use of robots.

Moore County Regional Hospital,UNC Hospitals, and Duke Medical Center already have robots filling patient prescriptions. The high tech pharmacist does not completely replace humans. Rather, the pharmacist enters patient information into a computer, and each patient is assigned a bar code like those found in grocery stores.

After the prescription is filled, a pharmacist checks it and delivers it to the patient. While the robotic pharmacist does the work of seven people it does not come cheap. Each robot costs $900,000.

Photographer:Ron Pittman