Magazine article Drug Topics

Don't Look to Pharmacy Boards for Relief on R.Ph. Workload

Magazine article Drug Topics

Don't Look to Pharmacy Boards for Relief on R.Ph. Workload

Article excerpt

Pharmacists who fear that heavy prescription volume and other workplace hassles are leading to more medication errors shouldn't look to state pharmacy boards for relief, according to an informal survey of pharmacy regulators.

Many pharmacists think state pharmacy boards should tackle workplace issues that they feel impact patient safety. But many regulators take a hands-off attitude when it comes to employee-- employer relations. Echoing the sentiments of board officials in Colorado and Maine, Minnesota pharmacy board executive director David Holstrom said that his board "exists to protect the public health, not to negotiate or demand certain working conditions for pharmacists. The board expects pharmacists to take whatever time is needed in filling prescriptions so that the safety of the public is not jeopardized. The board should not have to mandate every little aspect of professional practice."

William Winsley, executive director of the Ohio pharmacy board, mirrored the anti-intervention attitude. He added that as a protector of the public safety, the board would have a duty to act if higher Rx volume is resulting in more medication errors. "That does not appear to be the case, however," he added. "From the number of complaints filed since 1991, we're not seeing an error rate increase to match the workload increase. I consider it dangerous grounds for the boards to take action based on supposition."

It's not that pharmacy boards don't care about working conditions, it's just that many of them have been whipsawed between opposing sides when they proposed solutions, according to Carmen Catizone, executive director, National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. He added that NABP's proposed $300,000 workplace issues study died from a lack of funding.

"Our feeling was that without some hard data to analyze what was contributing to the excessive workload and medication errors, it would be difficult for us to recommend any solutions," said Catizone. "Every board I've talked to is very interested in this issue, but every solution thrown out by them has been unacceptable to one or both sides."

North Carolina has taken the most aggressive regulatory approach to workplace issues. The board passed regulations that hold pharmacy owners and pharmacists equally responsible for errors when a pharmacy dispenses more than 150 Rxs per day per R.Ph. Another rule requires 12-hour days and meal breaks. Although that rule is currently in the courts, several chains have instituted breaks as a result of the mandate, said pharmacy board executive director, David Work. …

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