RPH’s written up for doing what a professional Pharmacist is suppose to do

Medical errors kills 100,000 people every year

and estimates that >1,000,000 people are harmed by medication mistakes. That is equivalent to a full size commercial airliner falling out of the sky and kills everyone aboard EVERY DAY.

Click to access Medical_Negligence_Primer.pdf


Errors, those who make them and those who are harmed by them are kept quite by the Boards of Pharmacy and by sealed confidential court settlements. Only the most egregious cases end up going to trial and details sees the light of day and public scrutiny.


The following are excerpts from a email we received from a Pharmacist who works for one of the three major chain stores in one of Tennessee’s large metropolitan areas.

Our concern is that patient safety is a low priority for all too many chain pharmacies and the majority of the State Boards of Pharmacies are being less than diligent in enforcing their primary charge of protecting the public’s health & safety.

This is what is expected of a Pharmacist… even if they have no ancillary tech help and are alone, which often happens either intentionally via scheduling or employees failing to show up when scheduled.

“Management (non-pharmacist) insists timing metrics must be met even under the most dire of circumstances including if I am the only person in the pharmacy:

– Two Drive-thru lanes and multiple phone lines are timed and must be answered in 20 seconds or less – basically by the second ring

-Prescriptions for waiters (patients insisting to stay in the store while their prescriptions are prepared) and all pharmacist-administered vaccines should be processed as soon as possible with 15 minutes being the goal

It is not untypical that a Pharmacist will work 12-14 hrs days, often several consecutive days. No scheduled breaks (bathroom, meals) and often strongly discouraged from taking restroom breaks. Often company policy dictates no stools/chairs, food or beverages in the Rx dept.

“I went into work on the first day and worked 3 p.m.-10 p.m., back in the next day and worked from 8:00 a.m. – 10 p.m., and then returned again the following morning to work from 8:00 a.m.-3 p.m. – all without any scheduled breaks except an occasional bathroom break. This incident occurred on last morning. Only two pharmacists work all the pharmacy hours at this store and every hour of every shift is spent standing.”

Put yourself in such a work environment with the all the following tasks, dealing with the mandated timing metrics and accurately filling prescriptions.

“So on this morning I was lead tech for everything that involves AND the only pharmacist with multiple phone lines, 2 drive-thru lanes, electronic and other faxed prescriptions, in-store health clinic , counseling (on phone, at drive-thru lanes, and at the counter), compounding, transfers, Sudafed sales (new state law, but this employer added that the pharmacist must ring out all their items even if it includes detergent and shampoo), answering random questions from people approaching the open counter, ringing up customers that just didn’t want to wait in line at the front store, and a host of other distractions while trying to interpret and calculate prescription medications.”

With all the above things common in the chain pharmacy Rx dept, some chains are promoting a 15 minute Rx guarantee. At last count, only 3 state pharmacy boards have declared this unsafe and instructed Rite Aid to cease promoting it. What many people don’t realize is that many chain pharmacies have “timer icons” on the pharmacy computer screen and if too many of them turn “red” the pharmacy staff will be “written up” BY THE COMPUTER… for not meeting a arbitrary timing/production metrics.

One day when there was no ancillary tech help provided, the above Pharmacist was “written up” for taking actions that he/she believed would help minimize the risks of making a error in filling a prescription, but in doing so, he/she was not able to meet all the production metrics.

With a estimated 25% of all state board of pharmacies positions being occupied by chain exec, do we have a stealth epidemic of greed that is placing hundreds of thousands of patient’s health and life at risk?

The chains know that all but one board of pharmacy (NC) will not hold the chain responsible for what goes wrong in the Rx dept, the board will look to the Pharmacist in Charge (PIC) as the responsibility party, although the PIC has no say in staffing levels or other parameters.

But don’t take this one Pharmacist’s word or ours for that matter. You or a loved one could be one of the hundreds of thousands that are harmed or killed by medication errors over the next year.

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