With all the fresh news about coronavirus break and the boosting panic around this topic, the Oklahoma Board of Pharmacy is studying chain drug stores for low staffing level, one as well as a New York Times article on the dangers of understaffing, two many pharmacologists are speaking out about understaffing and stressful work conditions, all of which leads to potentially fatal mistakes.
The Study Results
A study from researchers at the University of Arizona examined 672 drugstores that charged an average of 18,000 prescriptions from January 2003 to March 2003, adding 1375 directions per week. During the analysis period, the number of possibly harmful drug-drug interactions assigned by each drugstore equalized.
The drugstores in the research used an average of 1.2 stores per hour the store was open, and each apothecary filled an average of 14.1 directions per hour. Notably, the researchers found that the risk of giving potentially harmful combinations of medications rose by 3% for each extra line filled per hour.
Pharmacologists say that understaffing, stressful work situations, and a lack of support are all according to these dispensing errors.
Suzanne Soliman, PharmD, BCMAS, founder and president of the Pharmacists Moms Group, said she receives many emails from pharmacists who are frustrated with their work conditions but feel helpless to speak out.
“They’re hurried, [and] I would say some of them are nervous,” Soliman said in one of the interviews. “A lot of the pharmacists that I encounter, they’re anxious and depressed, and they’re suffering from anxiety because they have to do things so quickly.”
Soliman sees several possible contributing factors to the understaffing problems, which she said are very widespread.
Although she noticed that it has also affected independent drugstores, Soliman said chain drugstores are affected the most because they fill a much higher volume of prescriptions.
“[Chain pharmacies] have these high-volume stores, apothecaries are required to go through and check multiple directions during their shifts, and then they have no one there to answer the phone [or] if there’s a drive-through,” Soliman said.
Soliman also conducted to low mortgage rates, which she said put weight on stores to increase profits and save money wherever feasible—even by laying off staff and reducing the number of personnel behind the counter.
“To maintain full clarity, we are asking chain drugstores to write all of their metrics for calculating apothecary and professional hours and ultimately error rates,” she wrote in the statement. “We also encourage pharmacies to publish how many prescriptions are filled each month and how much staff they have so that patients can make an informed decision as to which pharmacies provide adequate staffing to suit their needs.”
How Can Stress Influence Your Life?
Understaffing and stressful circumstances can be particularly dangerous when they result in medication mistakes. Some pharmacists, however, are concerned that pharmacy chains are sweeping the errors under the rug. A recent report from The New York Times said that staff reports of high-stress levels and “unreasonable” expectations were removed from a corporate donation.
Soliman has told that many pharmacologists feel there’s nothing they can do individually to solve the problem, but she hinted several broader changes that could help. Providing more staffing is the simple answer, but the more bottomless item is the low reimbursements that result in understaffing, according to Soliman. Encouraging transparency and reforming pharmacy benefit managers is a necessary step to improving the financial status of medicines, she replied.