Pharmacy unions are focusing on improving working conditions for pharmacists on several fronts, including the number of breaks pharmacists can take, safety measures when dealing with Covid-19, and workload issues.
Unions are pushing for reforms that include required breaks for pharmacists. The unions are working with state legislatures to update laws so that the regulations truly apply to current working conditions in pharmacies. In addition to required breaks, they also want a designated area where pharmacists can go for a break without interruption.
Moreover, union officials argue that management should be held accountable if pharmacists cannot take planned breaks. When a pharmacist cannot take a break, it is usually because the pharmacy does not have the staff it needs.
Several states already have laws requiring breaks for pharmacists and spelling out where the breaks can be taken. The number of breaks is determined by the number of hours worked. Some employers also have mandated breaks.
Whether mandated by law or company policy, pharmacists should have scheduled breaks for their own health and the safety of patients, according to officials at the American Pharmacists Association.
Safety and Protection
Pharmacy unions and professional associations are also advocating for pharmacists’ safety during the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic has significantly disrupted pharmacy operations and raised concerns about the safety of pharmacists. They are concerned about having enough protective equipment. Safety guidelines such as social distancing and disruption of drug supplies have also made their jobs harder.
Pharmacies are likely going to be more involved in testing for Covid-19 and possibly administering a vaccine for the virus. According to pharmacy leaders, unions need to ensure that measures are taken to provide for the safety of pharmacy staff and customers for these healthcare initiatives.
Studies have shown that increased workloads for pharmacists raise the likelihood of medication errors. Surveys of 18 cities in 2003 showed that pharmacies in those locations averaged almost 18,000 prescriptions filled from January to March. Pharmacists filled an average of 14 prescriptions an hour.
The probability of harmful drug interactions rose by three percent for every additional prescription filled per hour. Conditions have not changed much, according to pharmacy leaders. To help alleviate these demanding conditions, unions are seeking regulations to limit work shifts to eight hours for retail pharmacists and ensure that at least one pharmacy technician is working with a pharmacist.
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