Mistakes and How to Fix Them


Today’s theme is going to be centered around fixing mistakes. I ran into several errors today. Though they weren’t faults of the pharmacy, the situations still needed to be handled appropriately. So, here’s a handy, dandy guide to fixing prescription problems.

Step One:
Determine the cause of the error. Find out what went wrong and, if possible, who was at fault. This not only helps you to figure out the best way to resolve the issue, but it will also help you explain the situation to the patient. The root cause may or may not be in the pharmacy. It’s always possible the wrong medication was called in or (for us United States folks) the insurance was billed incorrectly.

Step Two:
Resolve the issue. Do whatever is necessary to make things right. If you need to call the prescriber’s office, do it. If the insurance needs to be contacted, do it. If you need to admit to yourself that you messed up, DO IT! Whatever it is that needs to be done, take the proper steps to effectively and efficiently resolve the problem. Every issue is different, so handle each individually.

Step Three:
Explain the situation to the patient every step of the way, and apologize for the hassle. Face it, pharmacists and pharmacy techs, we are the healthcare professionals seen most frequently by the community. When something goes wrong with a prescription, it is understandable that people get upset with us. They don’t care who made the mistake; they just want it fixed. And, we are almost always the ones in charge of fixing it! When we apologize for the error (even if it’s not our fault), people tend to calm down or, at least, stop getting more upset. This ultimately leads to building good professional relationships with our patients.

Step Four (optional):
If the error is the pharmacy’s fault, compensate the patient in some way. At my pharmacy when something is a fault of ours, we refund the price of the incorrect prescription (if paid for) and charge them nothing for the corrected one. This tends to work out best for us and shows our patients that we value their safety over our profits.

Step Five:
Apologize one last time before they leave, and wish them a good day. Truthfully, this is just plain courtesy.

So, that about sums up the basics on how to handle prescription problems properly. If you feel I left anything out, let me know!


Image courtesy of http://i1221.photobucket.com/albums/dd474/xxntricxx11/mistakes-hiring.jpg


3 thoughts on “Mistakes and How to Fix Them

  1. steve says:

    Thank you…that is a great description of what needs to be done. In our store we take the apology portion and put it right at the top. You are so right in the fact that the patient just wants to hear an apology. It is also so important to not blame it on someone else who is not working that day.

    We also dcument each and every error in what we call “Continuous Quality Improvement” or CQI. This helps us talk about the System and not the Person so that we can look carefully at what specifically broke down in our system so that we may prevent it from happening next time. We include the pharmacists and the technicians in this discussion process and everyone signs the completed discussion so that we have a team buy in to the resoution.

    Great topic, thanks for the discussion.

  2. Lucas says:

    As always, great blog post. I really enjoy reading them and cannot wait for the new one!

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