Magazine article Drug Topics


Magazine article Drug Topics


Article excerpt

More on the right to rest

I feel that if state boards are going to regulate that a pharmacist be on duty at all times when the store is open, then I think there should be an opportunity for reasonable breaks for meals, bathroom, etc. A half-hour for lunch/dinner every six hours, I think, is reasonable. With the tight budgets of most pharmacies these days, I understand that most times only one pharmacist can be on duty at one time, but I don't believe it is then unreasonable to allow that pharmacy to close for a half-hour to give staff a chance to eat out of view of customers (and away from phones).

I have worked a 17-hour day followed by a 14-hour day alone without a chance for a break. Can anyone name another person asked or required to do this regularly outside of the pharmacy profession? If we are to continue to call ourselves professionals and continue to provide a high level of service to our patients, we need to provide an environment wherein we can be treated as professionals and not specimens of mental and physical endurance.

Dave Dummler

Champaign, III.

You remain the No. 1 information source for pharmacists because of your concern for issues such as this one-the most critical problem facing pharmacists today: workload stress and the corresponding dramatic increase in prescription errors.

A solution? Store management should not sign prescription contracts that don't allow enough margin for lunch and rest breaks. There should be one-and-one-half hour lunch breaks for every six hours of work, and one 15-minute rest break for every six hours worked. Pharmacy ancillary personnel can take all calls while the pharmacist is on break, with a long cord on the phone so the pharmacy can remain closed; a monitor could be set up outside to answer questions.

Why haven't pharmacies been able to demand lunch breaks and rest breaks? Weren't they written into labor laws years ago? I would appreciate an answer to this question.

Thanks for addressing this issue. Please keep it on the front burner until we get it resolved.

Lawrence Busch, R.Ph.

Tehachapi, Calif.

I would be in favor of the workload being regulated by the pharmacy board or whoever, perhaps along the order of a maximum number of Rxs/hour/pharmacist. I believe most other kinds of workers get breaks every four hours and 30- to 60minute lunch breaks in eight hours. So why not pharmacists? Would it be unreasonable for the pharmacy department to close for the noon hour, as doctors' offices do?

Don Cortright R.Ph.

Monroe, Mich.

Pharmacists' workdays should be regulated by state pharmacy boards. Unfortunately, many R.Ph.s practice in some kind of chain-- drug chain, supermarket/drug chain, etc. The chain is concerned only with its bottom line. Checkout clerks and the like are given breaks, but the pharmacist must stand behind the counter, ever present. Using the restroom even becomes a problem. If the board doesn't make it mandatory to stop for lunch or a break, the chain will not give this option to its pharmacists. Why should the employer be concerned-jobs are scarce, and pharmacists are glad to be employed. Over six hours is too long to work without a break.

Antonella Sola

antonella@volition. com

Yes, pharmacy boards should regulate pharmacist workdays, hours worked, and breaks. Yes, errors of a serious nature should be reported to the board. Yes, pharmacy boards should rule on giving the pharmacist the option to have a stool at his/her computer, since continuous standing greatly adds to the fatigue factor.

How can work breaks be accomplished if only one pharmacist is on duty? Overlapping schedules have become extinct, and nine- to 12-hour days have become a reality. How long is too long to work without a break? This depends on how long your day is, but after four hours of nonstop Rx filling, I would like a break. …

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