The top 4 avoidable pharmacy mistakes

Alex Evans, PharmD, a pharmacist with 10 years of experience and the founder of Pharmacy Compliance Specialists, told Pharmacy Times the top four most common mistakes he sees in pharmacies and offered advice on how to avoid them.

The most common avoidable mistakes pharmacies make, according to Dr. Evans: 

  1. Improper storage of vaccines and refrigerated or frozen medications.
    Though the CDC has a vaccine and storage-handling toolkit, vaccine storage is still an area in need of improvement for many pharmacies, Dr. Evans said. He recommends the Immunization Action Coalition's website,, as the best source to guide pharmacies.

    Tips from Dr. Evans: Select the proper temperature-monitoring device and the proper refrigerator, document temperatures twice daily and handle excursions properly.

  2. Improper handling of hazardous drugs.
    Many pharmacies fail to fully protect their workers from exposure to hazardous drugs, Dr. Evans told Pharmacy Times. The US Pharmacopeia has a free copy of USP 800, the guideline on how to handle hazardous drugs, that he recommends all pharmacists download.

    Tips from Dr. Evans: Wear the proper gloves; use a dedicated counting tray; segregate hazardous drugs from the rest of your inventory in a proper location that is clearly labeled; define your site-specific list of hazardous drugs; and be sure you are decontaminating and deactivating hazardous drug contamination on the tray and in your work area.

  3. Poor controlled substance record keeping.
    Controlled substances can be diverted in myriad ways, Dr. Evans told Pharmacy Times. He recommends tracking controlled substances from "birth to death," meaning from the moment the pharmacy receives them until they are either dispensed or a reverse distributor takes them away, make sure to properly track them to reduce the risk of diversion.

    Tips from Dr. Evans: Use separate login credentials for your distributor’s ordering system; ensure your computerized inventory matches the actual inventory; require two signatures on the invoice when receiving controlled substances; and log and keep track of controlled substance waste, including dropped or broken tablets.

  4. Hoarding.
    Many pharmacies have too many unnecessary supplies, Dr. Evans told Pharmacy Times. A messy workspace leads to medication errors, longer wait times and confusion.

    Tips from Dr. Evans: Throw out pharmacy records as soon as you are not legally required to keep them; limit office supply orders or require manager approval first; label everything so it’s easy to find; and arrange furniture and items to minimize motion.

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