Working on the Workplace

Article excerpt

APhA to go after job site woes that hurt Rx care

The American Pharmaceutical Association will strive to resolve workplace problems that it believes contribute to medication errors and make pharmaceutical care impossible to provide. "Some pharmacists are practicing in an environment that does not support the most basic aspects of pharmacy practice," said John A. Gans, APhA's executive v.p., at the association's yearly meeting last month. "This seriously compromises patient safety. These workplace environment problems span all practice settings and must be addressed."

The most significant result of those problems is medication errors, which APhA spotlighted in Los Angeles at its 144th annual assembly. Citing several investigations by major media outlets last year that "slammed pharmacists and the profession" for not catching potentially deadly drug interactions, Gans told reporters that "no profession can stand that kind of bad publicity, and we have to address it."

APhA will not be getting into labormanagement relations and would focus on professional, not business, issues, insisted Calvin Knowlton, the outgoing president. Some of the topics a special task force is beginning to address are the lack of standardization of prescription drug card formats, redundant and/or conflicting on-line drug utilization review (DUR) alerts, work flow standards, time issues, access to patient information, priority of care versus dispensing, practice isolation, and basic human needs.

His successor, Gary Kadlec, indicated that unions were not equipped to handle professional issues.

Some of the work flow and physical environment redesign issues also are addressed in the revised Concept Pharmacy project done in conjunction with the National Wholesale Druggists' Association. Now in its second year, the traveling exhibit and associated reference materials have been revamped to emphasize practical advice on the transition to a pharmaceutical care practice, said Lucinda Maine, APhA's senior v.p. for professional affairs. The shift from concept to road map will help R.Ph.s, regardless of practice setting, to ask the right questions so they can implement patient-focused care, added Marsha Friedman, NWDA v.p. of information services.

Skittish perhaps of being perceived as anti-management, the APhA house of delegates shunted aside a proposal that would have stripped APhA policy statements of anti-union language. Offered by Michael L. Johnson, a Colorado food store R.Ph. and union member, it also would have put APhA on record in support of pharmacists "forming collective bargaining units under labor unions." With little debate, the resolution was referred to the board of trustees. Thus, APhA policy, approved in 1966, remains "that membership in a trade union is the antithesis of professional status for pharmacists and that the personnel needs and expectations of professional practitioners is a proper subject for the consideration of professional societies. …

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