Every state has different laws that apply to pharmacies. While some state laws deal with the aftermath of pharmacy errors, there are some new bills that experts believe could lead to additional pharmacy mistakes. For example, the state of Florida is reviewing a bill that would call for more pharmacy technicians than pharmacists.
The problem with this new proposed state bill is that many prescription errors often involve pharmacy technicians, who only have a fraction of the training that pharmacists have but perform almost all of the same tasks, according to Bob Parrado, retired pharmacist and past president of the Florida Pharmacy Association.
With over 235 million prescriptions written in Florida annually—one of the highest in this nation—there is already a .09 percent error rate. This equates to 580 mistakes a day and 212,000 errors each year, said Parrado. If more technicians are allowed to fill prescriptions, there could be a lot more issues involving mistakes with medications.
Pharmacy techs make mistakes frequently, as they are rushed to fill orders and don’t have as much training as pharmacists. Some large pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens may fill over 500 prescriptions daily, with only one pharmacist checking and signing off on the prescriptions that three pharmacists are filling.
Patient Safety Could Suffer
With this new legislation, the law could change—doubling the number of techs to pharmacists. As it stands currently, there is one pharmacist overseeing the work of three technicians. If the new bill is passed, there could be one pharmacist to six techs. According to Parrado, technicians make mistakes often, “once or twice a day.” More pharmacy techs filling meds may just lead to an increase in pharmacy errors.
If this bill becomes a new state law, many experts are worried that patients’ safety will be in jeopardy. Sadly, pharmacies are supporting this bill because it is cheaper for them to pay pharmacy techs than it is to pay pharmacists. While every company wants to save money, the fear of replacing pharmacists with pharmacy techs could result in more prescription misfills that could have been prevented.
There already are medication mistakes in Florida that occur all the time—such as patients receiving the wrong drugs, incorrect dosage, wrong medication information, or someone else’s medication. If more technicians are allowed to fill customers’ prescriptions, patients should be aware that there is the potential for more mistakes to occur with their medications.
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