Should boards of pharmacy set hourly dispensing quotas?
He believes this is a major cause of prescription medication errors and proposed that boards of pharmacy essentially set quotas for the number of prescriptions that should be filled in a given time by a calculated number of pharmacists and staff.
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Inquiry, not mandate
I applaud his desire to increase safety and reduce medication errors. I disagree with his assignment of blame. It is not practicable or feasible for the government to determine how many pharmacists and how many technicians are required to fill one prescription or 100 prescriptions.
North Carolina is often cited as having such a rule, but North Carolina’s rule is retrospective, not prospective.
When an error is submitted to a state board, it may be reasonable for the board to inquire into the prescription volume and the staff available at the time of the error. This is not the same as setting a quota.
Pharmacist, not boss
Professional practice does not lend itself to quotas. Instead, each pharmacist and each technician, regardless of the number on duty, must make the professional decision as to the amount of time required to fill this one prescription. The responsibility rests with the professionals filling the prescription.
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The pharmacist, not the pharmacy, is the professional. Professional decisions can be made only by the pharmacist, not by the boss.
It is up to pharmacists and technicians to guard against and reduce the risk of medication errors. The pharmacy’s job is to assist them and to provide the tools as may be necessary, such as a CQI workflow plan, scanners, a safe environment, etc. The pharmacy can suggest times required and can decide how many technicians are hired. The pharmacy cannot make a professional judgment.