Student Prevents a Medication Error

Pharmaceutical Technician Student - Greg PawliszynPharmaceutical Technician Student
Externship Student
Career College of Northern Nevada
Greg Pawliszyn

As a Pharmaceutical Technician student, we are strongly reminded the importance of being accurate when filling prescription orders. Time to time though, there will be a prescription that comes through that causes a “trained” Technician to take notice.

I am currently an externship student at a well respected pharmacy that serves the Reno/Sparks and Carson City areas. The days work is always simple; the Pharmacist prints out the prescriptions to be filled, the Technicians fills these prescriptions, and the Pharmacist then checks the filled prescriptions before being sent out.

I received a prescription order for Warfarin 1mg. Directions for this prescription were take 1 tablet by mouth five times daily. Quantity wanting to be dispensed was 120. I asked the Pharmacist if this was indeed correct, and why not just have a prescription for Warfarin 5mg instead? He looked at the prescription and then I also informed him of the quantity being dispensed and immediately then he took action. He looked up the hard copy of the prescription, and it did not match. The hard copy was indeed for Warfarin 1mg, quantity 120, but directions were to take 1 tablet by mouth four times daily. The hard copy matched the quantity being dispense, however, the Pharmacy only allows a months supply of Warfarin to go out at a time.

After contacting the prescribing Doctor, the original prescription was changed to 1 tablet by mouth every day for 28 days. Quantity being dispensed was 28 tablets. Strength was kept the same.

Had I not had a background in technician training that included pharmacology and drug dosing and alerted the Pharmacist, went ahead and filled the original prescription, the patient would have received more that what was necessary and a possible overdose may have occurred.

When on externship, it is just as important to be accurate as well as alert. Just because you receive a prescription to be filled, does not mean that it is correct. Pharmacy Technicians are just as responsible for catching errors as everyone else. Most importantly, when in doubt run your question by another Technician, or Pharmacist, or both! After all, we are dealing with people’s safety here.

Clinical Student Caught a Major Error While on Rotation

bottleMy name is Rebecca and I was getting ready to mix up an IV bag. The first thing I was taught to do in lab before I start mixing anything is look for the mixing instructions and the expiration date on the vial. (It was a vial from the refrigerator.) As I was looking for the instructions I saw that the expiration date was expired and so I then looked for the instructions on what you do if the medication has expired. Some IV vial medications can still be used up to different time periods. (5-10 days, ect) This medication said to discard immediately after expiring and DO NOT USE IF EXPIRED.

I asked one of the techs at the hospital what I should do with it (how to discard or who to give it to, etc). She informed me that it was still good to use and to go ahead and make the IV bag. I am a very cautious person and try my very best to treat every patient that will be receiving any IV that I prepare as if they were a family member.

I decided to ask the two pharmacists working about what the vial had said. Both of them read the label and kind of looked puzzled as to why the expiration date wasn't "caught" or seen before I had pointed it out to them. They pulled out the IV medication book and looked up what it supposed to be done and it said the same thing. All the techs working said they had never seen it say that before so they just assumed that it was the same with all of the IV medications (good up to 10 days after the expiration date).

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Nuclear Pharmacy

The 2010 class at Southeastern Technical College visited GE Healthcare Nuclear Pharmacy in December 2010 during their last quarter. They got a full tour and an inside look at what nuclear technicians do on a daily basis. As graduates of ASHP accredited programs, there are many advance career opportunities like nuclear, that you can apply for.

How Can Pharmacy Technicians Play a Role in MTM

Medication therapy management, also known as MTM, is defined as a broad range of health care services provided by pharmacists, and the pharmacy team. Included in that team is the pharmacy technician. As more pharmacy technicians advance their training, attend ASHP accredited training programs, and become certified pharmacy technicians, they are becoming invaluable to the management of medication therapy.

Medication therapy management services include medication therapy reviews, pharmacotherapy consults, anticoagulation management, immunizations, health and wellness programs and many other clinical services. Pharmacists provide medication therapy management to help patients get the best benefits from their medications by actively managing drug therapy and by identifying, preventing and resolving medication-related problems.

As much as this country has realized the need for MTM in order to promote medication safety, compliance with medication therapy, and ensure the efficacy of medication treatment, we also realize the time constraint on the pharmacist as the sole key role player in MTM. Many pharmacies are realizing the need to advance the training of pharmacy technicians to support the pharmacist in Medication Therapy Management. For example, a certified pharmacy technician may be asked to assist the pharmacist with the immunization program in the out-pharmacy setting. Not only do certified pharmacy technicians draw up the dosing with their IV skills and knowledge of aseptic techniques, but pharmacy technicians are also registered with document websites such as WebIZ where the technician documents the immunizations given. With advance training, the pharmacy technician may be able to help with marketing, promoting, scheduling, ordering, record keeping, preparing the area, drawing up vaccine or other duties depending on your state laws. (

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