Magazine article Drug Topics

Pharmacy Boards of Two Minds about R.Ph. Breaks

Magazine article Drug Topics

Pharmacy Boards of Two Minds about R.Ph. Breaks

Article excerpt

Pharmacy boards that have tackled the issue of lunch breaks for pharmacists have generally adopted two different approaches to the dining dilemma. One camp allows the pharmacy to remain open when the pharmacist grabs a bite, while the other favors locking up.

California, Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Texas are among the states that permit the pharmacy department to remain open as long as the pharmacist is available on the premises. Colorado, Hawaii, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming are among the states that require the pharmacy to be closed if the pharmacist is absent. However, some boards allow the rest of the store to remain open as long as the pharmacy department is closed and locked.

Allowing the pharmacy to stay open while a lone R.Ph. is on break generally comes with several caveats. For example, the New Hampshire board's new protocol permits only technicians to remain in the pharmacy during the absence of the R.Ph., who must be available somewhere on site to handle emergencies. Techs can continue to perform nondiscretionary tasks as determined by the pharmacist. New orders or refill Rxs can be accepted and processed, but they must be held for a final check by the pharmacist. New Rxs phoned in cannot be accepted.

The North Carolina pharmacy board hasn't had any complaints from consumers about pharmacies being allowed to remain open while the R.Ph. is on break, according to executive director David Work, R.Ph., J.D. "Our policy has worked fine," he told Drug Topics. "We've had no complaints from consumers or pharmacists. Occasionally, we get a complaint from a supervisor that a pharmacist won't take a break, but I'm not so sure I believe that. I guess there could be some who would say that when they come back, they're just as far behind. For our board, it's a safety issue going back to working conditions."

Montana is in the process of updating its pharmacy practice regulations, but, for now, the old rules require that the store has to be locked if a pharmacist is not present, said Rebecca Deschamps, R.Ph., executive direcfor of the pharmacy board. The board also stipulates that a technician can't perform any task unless a pharmacist is physically present in the pharmacy. Compliance officers won't cite a pharmacy as long as the R. …

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