Important Actions Community Pharmacies Need To Take Now To Reduce Potentially Harmful Dispensing Errors


While healthcare consumers across the US are facing the ever-growing health threat from a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, there remains another unresolved national problem continuing to generate serious and chronic public health issues. Medication safety is a serious issue that does not get enough focus. As health professionals and leaders in pharmacy, we must never turn a blind eye to the unresolved safety challenges taking place every day in community/ambulatory pharmacies. Pharmacists and technicians are working longer and harder than ever; they are already stretched to their limits, which makes errors more likely. In order to address this national problem, there are several simple and straight forward actions that support medication safety that pharmacy owners, supervisors and executive leadership need to have in place to make a difference.

Join the ISMP faculty as they illustrate preventable mistakes and hazardous conditions in community-ambulatory pharmacy practice, representing all steps of the medication dispensing process. Using the newly revised resource High-Alert Medications in Community/Ambulatory Healthcare as a backdrop, faculty will highlight common high-alert medications, error-prone processes, and often overlooked strategies. In addition, faculty will provide fresh insight into the proactive steps every community/ambulatory pharmacist or technician can take to prevent medication errors and vaccination errors from reaching the consumer.

Some topics that will be discussed include:

  • Safe processes associated with high-alert medications including insulin, opioids, anticoagulants, and oral chemotherapy agents

  • Safety strategies associated with the management and administration of vaccines, including those for COVID-19

  • Availability of free ISMP resources to self-assess current practice and plan for meaningful improvements

Intended Audience:

  • Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians in community/ambulatory pharmacy positions

  • Community and chain pharmacy corporate leadership

  • Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians in specialty pharmacy practice

  • State Board of Pharmacy staff and members 

Learning Objectives:

Following completion of this activity, participants will be able to:

  1. Define the term high-alert medication as it related to community/ambulatory pharmacy practice.

  2. Recall commonly used medications considered high alert in the community/ambulatory setting.

  3. Discuss the types of events and contributing factors associated with errors involving vaccines, including those for COVID-19.

  4. Discuss the adoption of proven prevention strategies designed to prevent or identify medication and vaccine errors in the community/ambulatory pharmacy setting before they reach a patient.


Matthew Grissinger, RPh, FISMP, FASCP, Director of Error Reporting Programs, ISMP

Michael J. Gaunt, PharmD, Medication Safety Analyst and Editor, ISMP

Michael R. Cohen, RPh, MS, ScD (hon.), DPS (hon.), FASHP, President, ISMP



This activity is funded by Novartis, Name Creation and Regulatory Strategy.

CE Accreditation

No continuing education credits are available for this activity. 


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