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Med Care. 1983 Apr;21(4):445-53.

A randomized trial comparing pharmacists and technicians as dispensers of prescriptions for ambulatory patients.


This article describes a study on the impact of utilizing technicians in the dispensing of prescriptions for ambulatory patients. The two hypotheses were 1) there is no difference in error rate for prescriptions dispensed by pharmacists versus technicians, and 2) there is no change in the amount of time pharmacists spend counseling patients after technicians begin dispensing prescriptions. Power analysis indicated that a sample size of 900 prescriptions would need to be randomized into each group to adequately compare error rates. Results showed that there was no significant difference in error rate between pharmacists (5.17 per cent) versus technicians (4.17 per cent), supporting the first null hypothesis. Pharmacists did spend significantly more time counseling patients (p less than 0.001), leading to a rejection of the second null hypothesis. Since the number of staff did not change during the study, it is calculated that, based on annual salary plus fringe benefits, +20,080 in additional pharmacists' time was freed up for patient counseling when technicians were dispensing the prescriptions.

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