California Board of Pharmacy Considers New Legislation Regarding Pharmacy Workplace Conditions
At its December 14th meeting, the California Board of Pharmacy (the “Board”) discussed proposed legislation addressing regarding what it perceives to be unsafe working conditions in pharmacies.
The workplace conditions legislation would allow the pharmacist on duty to close the pharmacy if, in their opinion, staffing at the pharmacy is inadequate to safely fill or dispense medications or provide patient care in a safe manner. The proposed legislation also gives the pharmacist-in-charge the autonomy to make staffing decisions to ensure sufficient personnel are present in the pharmacy to prevent fatigue, distraction or other conditions that may interfere with a pharmacist’s ability to practice competently and safely.
Members of the public as well as chain pharmacy representatives raised concerns that arbitrarily closing stores without notice would cause further patient harm due to patients having to wait an additional and unexpected amount of time for their medications. Those in support of the proposed legislation cited increases in medication errors and pharmacy employee burnout as the two primary issues motivating the legislation.
The Board noted during its discussion that further detail will need to be added to ensure that when pharmacists are required to close a store, they are closing when additional staff is not available and no other option is available to the pharmacist on duty. The Board also identified the need for documentation when decisions are made to close a store. Additional concerns were raised that while closure of a pharmacy for the day is the most extreme solution, it should be made clear that there are additional actions a pharmacist can take. The Board voted to support the proposed legislation with one change – allowing for the pharmacist on duty to make decisions regarding pharmacy closure if the pharmacist-in-charge is unavailable.
In addition to California, other states have either passed legislation on pharmacy workforce conditions or are looking at California’s quota prohibitions provisions as a model. Oklahoma law now requires the pharmacy to be responsible for adequate staffing to safely fill prescriptions. The Oklahoma Board of Pharmacy reviews staffing levels during a pharmacy’s inspection. See Oklahoma Administrative Rule 535:15-3-16 here. West Virginia, New York and Illinois attempted to pass legislation prohibiting the use of quotas for duties performed by pharmacist or technicians similar to California’s Business and Profession Code § 4113.7, with such legislation failing to pass.
If you have any questions regarding the Board's proposed legislation or the national trends regarding these topics, please contact your Quarles attorney, or:
- Susan Brichler Trujillo: (602) 229-5318 / firstname.lastname@example.org
- Laura Turner: (317) 399-2808 / email@example.com