From March 2020 until now, the COVID-19 global pandemic has taken a toll on everyone—but especially healthcare workers. Less discussed, however, are pharmacists and the burnout they have experienced as healthcare providers, since many may assume that other frontline workers, such as physicians or nurses, are bearing the brunt of the pandemic’s impacts. Pharmacists, however, have experienced similar record numbers of burnout and exhaustion during the course of the pandemic, and mistakes resulting from being overworked could injure or even kill patients.
According to a recent news report, the COVID-19 global pandemic has taken a significant toll on pharmacists, particularly as new variations of the virus continue to emerge and mutate with no signs of slowing down. For many who work in pharmacies, the work was a great fit initially because of the drive to give back and help people. Now, many pharmacists report being burnt out and exhausted from the daily demands of work, which have been exacerbated by pandemic specific tasks that added more work to each pharmacist’s already busy schedule.
Before the pandemic, for example, pharmacists mostly focused on filling prescriptions and providing a limited number of vaccines, such as the flu vaccine. Now, many pharmacists are struggling to fill up to 250 prescriptions a day while administering COVID-19 vaccines, COVID-19 tests, and manning the phones and other customers with limited staff available.
According to the American Pharmacists Association, 78 percent of pharmacists reported being exhausted from work. Similarly, a recent survey from the National Community Pharmacists Association found that 70 percent of independent pharmacists are struggling to fill staff positions within pharmacies, such as pharmacy technician roles.
Unfortunately, this comes as no surprise since the pandemic has pushed many pharmacists to the brink. Increased rates of burnout and exhaustion among pharmacists are not only dangerous for the pharmacists themselves but also put patient safety in jeopardy.
One former pharmacist cited being overworked as a reason why she gave up working at a pharmacy. Because the pharmacy was understaffed, she alone did all of the data entry, verification of data, and the last check at the end of each day. At one point, a patient came back with the correct medication, but incorrect directions, which could have significantly compromised the patient’s health and safety if the mistake had been more serious.
To combat the issue, many pharmacists say that they need more staffing to address the pressures and shortages the pandemic has created. For many pharmacists, however, corporate has simply shrugged off their concerns and reminded them of making their existing budget work—which pharmacists claim makes them question if they will ever have their concerns addressed.
For many pharmacists, the work during COVID-19 has become unsustainable. Unless changes are made, and soon, more pharmacists may be looking to exit, which may lead to poorer patient outcomes and a shortage of healthcare workers when we need them the most.
What Happens if a Pharmacist Makes a Mistake?
If a pharmacist makes a mistake, and a patient suffers as a result, the patient can pursue a pharmacy error claim against the negligent pharmacist. Pharmacy error claims are a type of personal injury claim, requiring a patient prove that the pharmacist’s negligence resulted in their injuries.
Do You Need a Maryland Personal Injury Lawyer?
If you or someone you know was recently injured by a medication error caused by a Maryland pharmacy, contact the attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen today. Our lawyers fight for the injured and will work to get you the compensation that you deserve. To schedule a free initial consultation with a member of our team, contact us at 800-654-1949.