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02-19-2008, 07:44 PM
Corporate policies for pharmacies -- "such as allowing or encouraging pharmacists to fill hundreds of prescriptions daily and rewarding fast work -- can contribute to errors" in prescription type or dosage, according to a USA Today (http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/health/2008-02-11-prescription-errors_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip) investigation. The investigation examined policies and alleged errors at Walgreens (http://www.walgreens.com/) and CVS (http://www.cvs.com/CVSApp/cvs/gateway/cvsmain), including lawsuits and pharmacy board disciplinary actions in 10 states. Walgreens and CVS together fill nearly one-third of all prescriptions nationwide.

USA Today found that in cases of alleged errors, "[s]ome common factors emerged," including "too many prescriptions" and "too few pharmacists"; an emphasis on speed; a reliance on technicians, who have less training than pharmacists; pharmacist incentive awards for increasing prescription volume; and a failure to offer or provide face-to-face counseling for most customers, which is required in all but two states.

In response to the investigation, Walgreens said that it has spent close to $1 billion over the last 10 years on safety training and technology, which "shows how seriously we take our responsibility to be error-free," according to the company. The goal of the investment is to "take out the possibility of human error as much as possible and have a zero error rate," the company said. CVS said that it has reduced errors to a "small fraction of 1%," and that rate is "continuing to decline," according to Papatya Tankut, the company's vice president for pharmacy professional affairs (McCoy/Brady, USA Today, 2/12).

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