Be Sure to Avoid These Four Pharmacy Operation Missteps ::

Operating a pharmacy can get complicated. There are a lot of moving parts. Although pharmacy managers make every effort to ensure things run smoothly, issues can crop up for any number of reasons. If there are problems, they are likely to be in one or more of these four areas.

Not storing vaccines or refrigerated medications properly

This is an area where many pharmacies fall short. When storing temperature-sensitive medications, there are a number of factors to consider. These include the temperature monitoring device that is used, what type of refrigeration unit that is used and maintaining adequate records. For information and guidance about these and other issues, experienced pharmacists recommend the CDC Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit and

Not handling hazardous drugs correctly

Many pharmacies are not doing enough to protect their workers from exposure to hazardous drugs. A few things to keep in mind when handling these substances – wear the right kind of gloves, have a counting tray designated exclusively for these types of drugs, store them in a separate area that is clearly labeled, maintain a record of all the hazardous drugs dispensed in the pharmacy, and make sure workers are decontaminating the drugs on the counting tray.

For more information on handling these kinds of medications, USP800 is the reference source to consult.

Inadequate recordkeeping for controlled substances

Experienced pharmacists recommend keeping track of these substances from the moment you receive them until they are dispensed. It is also a good idea to have procedures set up to prevent theft.

Other recommendations include using separate passwords for the distributor’s ordering system, making sure what you have recorded in the computer system matches what you have, making sure two people sign the invoice for the delivery of these drugs, monitoring waste materials from the controlled substances.


Many pharmacies collect equipment over time and end up with more than they need, resulting in workspaces that are cluttered and disorganized. There are papers scattered about, along with extra office supplies. This can lead to mistakes, inefficiency, and confusion.

Veteran pharmacists recommend disposing records when they are no longer mandated by law to be retained, requiring managers to approve orders for office supplies, and labeling equipment, so it is easy to find.

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