Zevan and Davidson Law Firm Articles Ensuring Patient Safety With Effective, Timely Drug Recalls

Ensuring Patient Safety With Effective, Timely Drug Recalls

By David Zevan  Aug. 10, 2012 12:04p

The Food And Drug Administration (FDA) regularly publicizes drug recalls to patients and physicians. Undoubtedly, these two parties are key stakeholders whenever a drug is under recall. However, even the retail pharmacist plays a pivotal role when it comes to ensuring patient safety. Patients may visit their physician annually or twice per year but they make frequent trips to their pharmacist which can take place on a weekly or monthly basis.

Since the pharmacist is the "last line of defense" in making certain that an unsafe drug is not dispensed to the customers, it is only too evident that effective communication channels and technology be installed in place at the pharmacist level to make them aware about any drug recalls that are being undertaken. Any initiatives that are implemented to ensure timely dissemination of recall information to pharmacists will in turn serve as a path to impart this valuable information to patients warning them of any changes that have been made to medication safety.

For rapid dissemination of this information, channels like "Dear Pharmacist" letters, e-mail or direct mail are not very efficient techniques for relaying such time-sensitive information. These notices can be put aside or ignored and eventually, forgotten. Even though these modes of communication are considered quite slow, inefficient and unreliable, they seem to be the most commonly used channels nowadays to inform pharmacists about drug recalls.

Under the FDA Amendments Act of 2007, the onerous responsibility of ensuring effective and efficient communication about drug recalls is placed with the Secretary of Health and Human Services. In order to achieve this goal, it is vital to form partnerships with key stakeholders that will entail a multi-faceted system which can handle post-market drug risks awareness to healthcare providers. The FDA started a pilot program in July 2011 which notified the public about drug recalls before they were classified. This information is contained in the Enforcement Report by the FDA and is published weekly. However, even this has not been effective in relaying notifications to pharmacists at the point of dispense.

The most effective notifications should occur as and when the prescriptions are being processed. Such technology solutions have been around for quite some time now and are accessible to pharmacies e.g. RelayHealth technology has made possible just-in-time messaging to pharmacists and has prevented recalled medications from being dispensed to patients which include undersized or oversized tablets, contaminated drugs, wrong strengths of drugs misplaced in vials and diabetic meters and test strips showing false readings.

Interestingly, medication errors are the second most common cause of medical mistakes. The St. Louis medical negligence lawyers at Zevan and Davidson have seen firsthand the devastating effects preventable medication errors can have on a patient and the patient’s family.

Get immediate help. If you believe that you have a medical negligence claim, contact the Missouri medical malpractice attorneys at Zevan and Davidson Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation by calling (314) 588-7200.

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