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Operating on the Edge of Disaster

Feb 17, 2012: In the summer of 2011, the Oregon State Board of Pharmacy conducted a survey of 5,700 licensed pharmacists in Oregon. The result? Over half of the chain pharmacist who responded stated that they believed their working conditions did not promote safe and effective patient care. One pharmacist complained, "I feel that we are operating on the edge of disaster. It is a danger zone for us and our patients.”

As independent pharmacies are continually bought out by large chain pharmacies, or just close due to the pressure put on them by the chain pharmacies, pharmacy has evolved to a more bottom-line mentality. More volume per pharmacy staff member can increase profits, but can also increase medication errors. Pharmacist also complained about fewer breaks, longer shifts, and more distractions—such as administering vaccinations. On pharmacist reported quitting a chain job because of feeling “like I’m going to jeopardize the patients every time I stepped into that pharmacy.” Another said because of lack of staff, “we have seen a huge increase in errors. We used to have a couple per month, now we have a couple per week and sometimes more than one in a day!”

Interestingly, in the same study, more than three-fourths of pharmacist who worked at an independent pharmacy believed their working conditions promoted safe and effective patient care.

Outside link:
Workloads, chain stores add to safety risks, Oregon pharmacist survey says