Magazine article Drug Topics

Radio Debate

Magazine article Drug Topics

Radio Debate

Article excerpt

Pharmacists standing knee-deep in the rising tide of prescription volume without enough shovels to fill the sandbags will have to learn to stand up to the boss if they expect to avoid being swept away, according to the head of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP).

There's no question that pharmacists need the proper work environment to be able to concentrate on prescriptions and interact with patients, said Carmen Catizone, executive director of NABP. Speaking on a recent broadcast of the syndicated radio program "The People's Pharmacy," he added, however, "We're seeing medication errors across the nation. Our own staff has been affected by medication errors. State boards of pharmacy are trying to deal with it ... but unless pharmacists take charge of those situations and do something to step out of those situations and say, 'I'm not going to take it anymore,' I think it's going to continue."

Having NABP tell retail pharmacists to take charge of their own work environment is sort of like the Emperor Nero urging the Romans to put out the fire while he fiddled, implied some other radio program guests and pharmacists who phoned in. For example, Ralph Vogel, president of the Guild for Professional Pharmacists, an independent union based in Woodland Hills, Calif., put the onus for doing something about rising R.Ph. stress and resulting medication errors squarely on the state pharmacy boards, which he said should stop ignoring the problems.

Citing the guild's recent survey of 23,000 pharmacists in California and Oregon, Vogel noted an error rate of about one mistake per 285 prescriptions that had left the pharmacy (Drug Topics, July 22). "You're talking on a yearly basis of 324 errors in an average pharmacy, almost one per day," he said. "If you multiply it out, California alone makes about two million errors per year, and [there are] about 17 million errors a year in the nation. That is an absolutely outrageous number of errors. We're in a chaotic state, and the error rate is totally in crisis."

David Work, executive director of the North Carolina pharmacy board, noted that his state was recently the first to institute penalties for excessive Rx dispensing rates (Drug Topics, Sept. 2). He said that the new rule was intended to address some of the work conditions that have some R.Ph.s at the end of their ropes but added that "nothing can be done short of a labor union to address" those problems. "The board's responsibility is for the public health and safety," he said. "Our job is not to look out for [pharmacists'] own interests; that's for an association or labor union. …

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