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November 7, 2001

Reducing Medication Errors

Author Affiliations

Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorJody W.ZylkeMD, Contributing EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2001;286(17):2091-2092. doi:10.1001/jama.286.17.2091

To The Editor: In the Clinical Crossroads article1 about a woman who noticed a medication error, Dr Bates neglected the initial key misstep—telephone refills—which frequently allows medication errors to occur.

Telephone refills extend treatment regimens but suspend clinical evaluations. This practice inhibits reassessments of compliance, adverse effects, and interactions and also distances the prescribing physician's judgment and advice from the therapeutic regimen. Physician decision making is often replaced by staff members who understand convenience better than safe prescribing practices.

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