Poll: Legislated workload limits

Would you support legislated limits on your hours or the number of scripts you could fill?

In the United States, Illinois General Assembly representative Mary Flowers has sponsored a bill which would require a pharmacist to have a pharmacy technician working with them at all times; to limit prescription fills to 10 per hour; to mandate non-working breaks; and to limit pharmacist working hours to eight hours a day.

The legislation, introduced in February, is still undergoing the state’s regulatory process.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner also made some proposals, moving that all pharmacists should be required to counsel patients on first-time prescriptions and changes to patient medicine.

The proposals follow a Chicago Tribune investigation which discovered 52% of 255 pharmacies targeted did not warn patients about dangerous drug interactions. The speed at which pharmacists needed to fill the scripts could have been a contributing factor in failing to counsel on the medicines, the report suggested.

A few other US states cap a pharmacist’s workday at 12 hours.

Medscape this week shone a light on the issue of workplace pressure on pharmacists, citing the Tribune investigation as well as another study, by Malone and colleagues, which found that the risk of dispensing medication with a potential drug/drug interaction rose by 3% with each extra script filled each hour.

Claims of overwork have been cited as contributing facts in dispensing error cases, such as that of Northern Irish pharmacist Martin White, who mistakenly gave a patient propranolol instead of prednisolone.

His legal representative said Mr White was “an ordinary man who struggled because he worked too hard… regularly working up to 60 hours a week… always on call.”

Last year PDL noted a rise in medication errors, and when we asked how many of you work through lunch breaks, 44% of respondents stated that they were an employee that worked through breaks and were not compensated for it.

What do you think? Would you support legislated limits to the hours you could work and the number of scripts you could fill, similar to the Illinois proposal?

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