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How Often Does YOUR Pharmacy Makes a Mistake?

There may be a completely logical explanation why deaths blamed on prescription drugs rise as much as 25 percent above the norm at the beginning of each month, as discovered in a recently aired 20/20 investigation.

With the help of a test designed by Auburn University, an investigative team conducted undercover field tests of prescription drugs dispensed at America's largest chain pharmacies in four states. Despite technological safeguards in place, mistakes were made on 22 percent of the prescriptions filled by chain pharmacies, very similar to the results of a similar ABC News/Auburn University conducted 12 years ago.

The problems had nothing to do with pharmacies ever failing to give patients the right medication, however. Numerous dispensing errors were the problem here, ranging from inaccurate or missing instructions on drug labels to selling the wrong number of pills. Also alarming was the scant time -- if any -- pharmacists spent with patients to counsel them about their new prescriptions. Overall, patient counseling was offered after only 27 of the 100 prescriptions undercover reporters purchased.

As one would expect, individual pharmacists reacted defensively, noting the 12-hour shifts many are forced to work without breaks. That may explain why many more drug stores are relying on pharmacy technicians as young as 16 to help them process prescriptions, as well as the many errors undercover reporters experienced.

Mistakes made at a pharmacy or hospital near you harm more than 1.5 million Americans every year, a major reason why the fatally flawed conventional health care paradigm is in such desperate need of reform.

ABC News/The Blotter March 30, 2007 Free Full PDF Report

ABC News/The Blotter April 3, 2007