TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Jeff Van Drew which would establish an error prevention program among New Jersey’s pharmacies was unanimously approved by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee today.
“Pharmacists are only human, and mistakes can happen when filling a patient’s prescription,” said Senator Van Drew, D-Cape May and Cumberland. “However, those mistakes can have serious consequences if a patient ends up taking the wrong medication. This bill would help pharmacies avoid medical errors which could jeopardize the health and safety of their customers, and would make health care in New Jersey much safer.”
The bill, S-409, entitled the “Pharmacy Quality Improvement and Error Prevention Act,” would establish a four-tiered approach to address medication errors in New Jersey. First, the bill would create a 24-member Medication Error Prevention Task Force which would be responsible for providing guidelines in implementing error prevention, pharmacy quality improvement and consumer education programs to the New Jersey State Board of Pharmacy. Secondly, the bill would require pharmacies to establish a continuous quality improvement program to document, review and assess medication-related errors in order that the pharmacy could take appropriate actions to avoid the recurrence of such errors.
The bill would also require the State Board of Pharmacy to provide periodical alerts about prescription drugs that have been identified as having names that look or sound alike to the extent that they are difficult to differentiate without careful examination. And the bill would require registered pharmacists in the State to report possible errors to the State Board to enhance error-prevention programs being conducted within the State.
“Given the high volume of prescriptions a pharmacist has to fill in the course of a day, and the number of drugs on the market that have extremely similar sounding and looking names, mistakes are inevitable,” said Senator Van Drew, who also practices dentistry in Southern New Jersey. “New Jersey has a public health responsibility to make sure that mistakes happen as rarely as possible, and that when they do happen, that pharmacists in the State take the appropriate steps to make sure that they don’t happen again. This bill would create a comprehensive program to reduce medication errors and ensure quality services for New Jersey’s many local pharmacies.”
The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.