Understaffing is a major contributor to medication errors every year. One hospital invested in increased staffing in order to help reduce the risk of medication errors and found the strategy was very successful.
According to a report by NPR, the Children's Medical Center in Dallas experimented by adding more pharmacists to its emergency department staff. The hospital hired extra pharmacists, who were in charge of going over each medication to be administered to the patient to ensure both the prescription as well as dose of the medication was correct. The hospital has several full-time emergency department pharmacists, who are available 24 hours a day. Every time a doctor puts in an order for a prescription drug, the order is reviewed by a pharmacist in the emergency department before the medication is administered to the patient. Those tactics were found to be especially useful because children are approximately three times more likely to fall victim to medication errors, compared to adults.
This approach seemed to work very well because it is a large hospital with a large ER. In the case of a hospital with a smaller ER, it can be difficult to have even the most basic staffing for patients and to have a pharmacist especially for emergency duty. It often can't be cost justified.
On an average day, Children's Hospital of Dallas pharmacists go through about 20,000 medications and review these for risk factors like weight, medications and allergies.
Medication errors contribute to as many as 700 patient deaths annually. Earlier studies have also indicated the use of pharmacists can play a major role in helping reduce the incidence of medical errors in hospitals.