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Pharmaceutical Safety

Pharmaceutical safety is a huge issue in healthcare. Protecting patients from medication error can be a matter of life or death. Read here how to prevent medication errors and protect patients health.


Practicing pharmaceutical safety should be Number One in healthcare. This can easily be done with a system of checking medications against a patients health records. There are also five checks that need to be done every time someone is given a medication:

The Five Rights

The Five Rights are a system of verifying medications. It includes; right patient, right route, right drug, right time and the right dose. Pharmaceutical safety must be taught to all health professionals before they are allowed to work with medications. While not always foolproof, this system greatly improves pharmaceutical safety. Let's take a closer more in-depth look:

  • Right Patient - Carefully identify the patient. This can be done with patient armbands, asking them their name or asking a family member.

  • Right Route - Verify the route a medication is to be given. If a suppository is given "P.R." or per rectum and potassium is given "P.O" or orally, you wouldn't want to get these two mixed up. If a physician has illegible handwriting, you must call to clarify orders that cannot be read!

  • Right Drug - This is one of the most dangerous areas for medication error and lack of pharmaceutical safety. Sound alike medications can mean life or death. Here is an example:


Doctors prescribed a patient Lyrica for the pain of Fibromyalgia in a 150 mg dose. The pharmacy dispensed Lamictal for seizures at 150mg which overdosed the patient on the wrong medication. End Result: The patient committed suicide. A side-effect of Lamictal.

Here is a link to a list of Sound Alike medications for reference. Having this handy can help with pharmaceutical safety: Institute for Safe Medication Practices 

Pharmaceutical safety is important in every aspect of healthcare. Whether you are in the pharmacy or on the nursing floor, everyone needs to perform medication checks. Nursing aids can even be trained to watch for medication side-effects and reactions to report to nursing staff. This improves the quality of healthcare putting patient safety at the top of priorities!