Last month, the Florida House of Representatives passed a bill, by a vote of 101 to 16, that would double the number of pharmacy technicians each pharmacist can supervise from three to six.
The pharmacists remain responsible for signing off on all of the medication orders, regardless of whether they fill them personally or a trained pharmacy technician fills them under supervision.
Opponents of the bill argue that it puts corporate profits at more of a priority than patient safety.
Under current law, pharmacies have to petition the State Board of Pharmacy in order to have each pharmacist supervise more than one, up to three, technicians. But the bill would allow up to six techs per pharmacist without any prior board approval. Thus, the bill is essentially eliminating the current oversight, and creating the opportunity for a six fold increase in the number of techs without requiring any special application process.
Critics further point to the incidences of pharmacy error that are occurring with the 1:3 ratio, and imply that this would only become more prominent with less oversight.
Major pharmacy retailers, such as Walgreen’s, CVS and Publix, support the bill, claiming that they operate in several states which do not have any mandated ratios, and according to their statistics do not have a difference in quality across these different states. If pharmacies are able to hire more pharmacy technicians, who are paid much less than pharmacists, their potential profits could rise because they could sell more medicine in the same amount of time.
Experts point out that, if passed, the bill would effectively force pharmacists who are employed by these larger pharmacies to accept as a condition of employment that they will sign off on orders filled by more techs, and if they aren’t comfortable with it, they can seek employment elsewhere. However, the market is heavily dominated by big chains, so the choice may not be so straightforward.
The pressure faced by pharmacists is enormous. Particularly when employed by the larger retail stores, they are required to fill a high volume of prescriptions without adequate time allowed to double check in order to ensure that orders are being filled properly. The result is that patients can be harmed. Common pharmacy errors include incorrect medications, incorrect concentrations, incorrect dosages, and sometimes intermingling of the wrong drugs together with correct ones. Pharmacy errors are serious because they can lead to dangerous drug interactions, allergies, side effects, and can sometimes even result in death. Pharmacists and their employers are potentially liable for the harm caused by their negligence when it leads to injury.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a medication or pharmacy error, the experienced Maryland attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen can help. Our attorneys have extensive experience in advocating on behalf of individuals who have been harmed by medication errors, whether they were improperly prescribed, dispensed, or administered. Contact us today through our website, or by calling us at (800) 654-1949, in order to schedule your complimentary initial consultation.
More Blog Posts:
Young Girl Narrowly Survives Morphine Overmedication in Hospital, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, published May 6, 2013
Improperly Mixed Nutritional Supplements Given to 186 Babies & Children in Compounding Error, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, published April 29, 2013