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Complaints About Pharmacist Errors Up in NC

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RALEIGH — How do you know the prescriptions you buy havebeen filled correctly? If you are concerned, you are not alone.Consumer complaints to the North Carolina Pharmacy Board have increased by40%. That's why the board is "cracking down" on pharmacists and the storesthey work for.

The board held a hearing Tuesday for a Cary pharmacist accused ofmaking six mistakes. As of March the board agreed to hold stores as wellas 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 theworkload needs to be monitored.

Board members say pharmacists should not be asked to fill more than150 prescriptions a day.

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

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

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

Photographer:Ron Pittman

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