Medication Errors: the Importance of Safe Dispensing


By: Ka-Chun Cheung, Marcel L Bouvy, and  Peter A G M De Smet
Published in NCBI
June 2009

Six main types of medication error can occur in the chain of pharmacological and pharmaceutical patient care: prescribing faults, prescription errors, transcription errors, dispensing errors, administration errors, and ‘across settings’ errors [1]. In this article we focus on dispensing errors.

Definition of a dispensing error

A dispensing error is a discrepancy between a prescription and the medicine that the pharmacy delivers to the patient or distributes to the ward on the basis of this prescription, including the dispensing of a medicine with inferior pharmaceutical or informational quality [16].

Categories of dispensing error

Table 1 shows the categories of dispensing errors [12367]. If dispensing errors are considered from the perspective that the quality of all pharmacy care activities should be assured by the pharmacist, this list can be extended by the addition of three other categories: failure to detect and correct a prescribing error before dispensing; failure to detect a manufacturing error before dispensing; and failure to provide adequate patient counselling in order to prevent administration errors. These categories arise in other segments of the pharmaceutical patient care chain, but they are nevertheless important when one strives for a full assessment of the pharmacy’s performance [89].


I selected this article as I found it quite interesting that not only can there be present medication errors but as well as dispense errors for such medications. The listed errors that are categorized as ‘dispense errors’ do in fact play an important role in the delivery of the prescribed medications by the health care physician, and also impact the final consumer. Any error or mistake prior to distribution will only add more confusion and complications physically to an individual and also to those attempting got. identify the problem with their listed medication.