California legislation aims to tackle issues related to the staffing levels in pharmacies.
California lawmakers have approved a groundbreaking bill aimed at ensuring safe operations within chain pharmacies by maintaining adequate staffing levels. The legislation, known as Assembly Bill 1286 or the “Stop Dangerous Pharmacies Act,” mandates that chain pharmacies report all medication errors and establish guidelines for minimum staffing levels. This initiative, now awaiting Governor Gavin Newsom’s signature, comes in response to concerns that insufficient staffing in pharmacies may contribute to prescription errors.
Among the bill’s key provisions is the empowerment of pharmacists to temporarily close a pharmacy if they believe their work conditions pose life-threatening risks to patients.
Susan Bonilla, CEO of the California Pharmacists Association, emphasized that the primary focus of the bill is patient safety. She expressed the association’s support for the legislation, highlighting that while it obliges pharmacies to report medication errors to the state, it also offers protections for pharmacists. Furthermore, the bill grants greater authority to the pharmacist in charge at each pharmacy to make staffing decisions.
Bonilla noted that there were extensive negotiations involving retailers during the bill’s drafting and development. She believes that the final version of the bill represents a thorough review process and a willingness to consider input from all stakeholders.
Governor Newsom is anticipated to sign the bill, according to Bonilla.
This legislative effort comes in the wake of heightened concerns about the workload of pharmacists, particularly in the context of the pandemic. Many pharmacists reported challenging work conditions as a result of increased demand for testing, vaccinations, and other services.
A recent survey conducted by the California Board of Pharmacy found that nearly 91% of pharmacists believed staffing levels were insufficient to provide quality patient care. Moreover, over 83% of pharmacists reported that they lacked sufficient time to consult with patients about safe prescription usage.
It is estimated that California pharmacies commit nearly 5 million medication errors annually, as per the office of California State Assemblymember Matt Haney, the legislator behind the bill. However, the exact number remains uncertain as pharmacies are presently not obligated to report medication errors.
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