Everyone gets tired from time to time—even Walgreens pharmacists—and many people experience some fatigue every day at work. While it is normal to get bored on the job and want to close one’s eyes, it is a safety concern if one’s job involves the public. For example, when a pharmacist is battling fatigue at work, he or she could present a safety risk to the public.
Unfortunately, consumers’ safety can be compromised if pharmacists at Walgreens and other pharmacies work while tired. However, the truth is that many pharmacists do get bored on the job or are overworked and stressed. In either event, pharmacists might be affected by fatigue as a result. When this happens, a pharmacist can make serious mistakes—such as filling the wrong dosage of drugs, mixing up sound-alike or look-alike medications with each other, and ultimately providing customers with wrong medications.
A Closer Look at Fatigue at the Pharmacy Level
According to Amy Friend, who studied pharmacist fatigue through the Research Experience for Undergraduates program funded by the National Science Foundation, pharmacists and technicians who worked 12-hours shifts were affected by fatigue. As stated in The Salt Lake Tribune, Friend stated that she hopes employers become aware of the toll 12-hour shifts can take and find countermeasures.
While not every pharmacist works 12-hour shifts, there are some pharmacies that have their pharmacists work 13- and 14-hour days. But the great majority of Walgreens pharmacists work around 8-hour shifts. However, pharmacists who work the night shift often work 10 hours or more. When working over 8-hour shifts, pharmacists are at risk for making medication mistakes due to fatigue.
To combat fatigue, pharmacies could do the following things, such as:
- Install anti-fatigue runners and mats in the pharmacy.
- Have workers wear anti-fatigue insoles in their shoes.
- Utilize light visors.
- Cut the length of shifts down to no more than eight hours a day.
- Have more pharmacists on hand to reduce the workload.
When pharmacists attempt to fill prescriptions while tired, their thoughts and decisions are affected and can lead to prescription errors. Although the majority of pharmacy errors occur due to pharmacists and pharmacy technicians moving too quickly and not double checking their work, mistakes occur all the time because pharmacists and technicians are just too tired and they fail to read the correct prescription or fill the correct drug or dosage.
If you are a victim of a Walgreens pharmacy error, you should seek legal advice or at least read some helpful materials on the subject. To learn more, you can request a free copy of our book How to Make Pharmacies Pay for Injuries Caused by Medication Errors.