Magazine article Drug Topics

Pharmacists Favor Preserving R.Ph.-Tech Ratio, Poll Finds

Magazine article Drug Topics

Pharmacists Favor Preserving R.Ph.-Tech Ratio, Poll Finds

Article excerpt

A good technician can be the pharmacist's best friend behind the counter, but abolishing the ratio of how many techs one pharmacist can supervise could be too much of a good thing, according to a Drug Topics Internet poll.

When the on-line poll asked whether R.Ph.-tech ratios should be abolished, 894 took the time to respond. And 63% of those 894 thought getting rid of the ratios is a bad idea. Another 32% gave it a thumbs-up, and 5% didn't seem to care one way or the other.

Patient safety topped the worry list of respondents who opposed abolishing R.Ph.-tech ratios. They're concerned that if one pharmacist were required to oversee too many techs, it might be a recipe for more medication errors.

"The current shortage of pharmacists certainly demands a change, but I don't believe elimination of the ratio is prudent," said Harvey Keller, R.Ph., New Hope, Minn. "I'm afraid this might result in many dispensing organizations whose business policies are directed by nonpharmacists or nonpracticing pharmacists, creating unsafe environments."

One pharmacist warned that "many techs don't understand the mental and legal work/responsibilities needed to do our job properly." She warned, "If you had more and more of these people, it would be bedlam, unless, of course, the manager cares enough to do something about it. In many, many cases they just don't care or take the proper action."

Several respondents said that instead of abolishing R.Ph.-tech ratios, state regulators should tinker with the numbers to get the proper balance. "A ratio of 5:1 does not seem to be unreasonable to me," said Perry Turner, director of pharmacy, Cumberland Medical Center, Crossville, Tenn. "The pharmacist should be given more discretion on the safe ratio, given the particular task being performed. For example, I would not want a 5:1 ratio in sterile preparation but would be comfortable [with it] in other areas. …

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