https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/05/10/skin-melts-off-medication-error/315930001/ (mirror) says:

According to the Food and Drug Administration, medication errors jumped from 16,689 in 2010 to more than 93,930 in 2016. That's nearly a 463% increase.
Pharmacy industry experts believe the numbers also reflect more people are filling more prescriptions than ever.

Has any scientific study tried to quantify to what extent filling more prescriptions increases the number of medication errors?

  • 2
    Are you asking about the number of people in the country who are filing prescriptions, or the number of prescriptions a given pharmacist fills in a shift? If the former, would be a pointless thing to study, it's just math. If the average pharmacists has a probability of (say) 0.1% of making a mistake on a single prescription, then the expected number of mistakes made in the country will be directly proportional to the number of prescriptions in the country. May 13, 2017 at 3:05
  • @KeshavSrinivasan the number of prescriptions a given pharmacist fills in a shift May 13, 2017 at 3:16

1 Answer 1


There are thousands of papers that study medication errors. They fall into various groups. There is the provider side, the pharmacist side, the technician side, the nursing side, and the system side (just for a start). Papers tend to look at one area, say pharmacy, and not the provider. Or they look at nursing, but not pharmacy or provider. Some papers try and take a systems approach, but it is challenging.

The best paper to get started in this area is "To Err is Human"


It came out in 1999, made recommendations, and we still aren't there. You can then follow the trail of research and issues from there.

As for Lamictal, there is a huge blackbox warning about Stevens-Johnson (SJS)


The dosage can vary from 100mg to 400mg a day (or even lower for renal dosing). The article says there is a claim in the lawsuit that the dosage was incorrect, but we don't know if it was or not. Since SJS is a risk with many medications, we all take that risk when we take medications. This isn't a great example of a medication error, since we don't have all the information, and SJS can occur when the provider, pharmacist, tech, nurse, and the whole team did everything right.

If you are interested in this, I'd recommend you visit the IHI


They are the biggest and most reputable source for patient safety data.


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