Topics: News, Press

California Ensures Community Pharmacies Have Safe Staffing Levels Needed to Keep Patients Safe

Sacramento, CA – The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Western States Council applauded Governor Gavin Newsom for signing AB 1286 (Haney) into law. AB 1286 will begin to alleviate the chronic understaffing of community pharmacies and pharmacist burnout that puts patients at risk of medication errors. 

“Pharmacists have taken on more and more of our communities’ healthcare provider duties, but without the appropriate increase in staffing,” said Dan Larson, president, UFCW Local 648. “AB 1286 ensures pharmacists will have the staffing they need to prevent against medication errors and pharmacists can have the time to give patients the level of care they deserve. UFCW member pharmacists and pharmacy technicians know this bill will keep California’s patients safe and applaud the signing of this bill into law.” 

In 2021, the California Board of Pharmacy released a workforce survey of pharmacists that sought information about working conditions in community pharmacies. The survey results highlighted what UFCW’s member pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy staff already knew – they faced significant challenges in terms of their workload, which was further exacerbated by the expanded role they played in the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • 83% of respondent pharmacists in community chain pharmacies said they don’t have sufficient time to provide appropriate patient consultation. 
  • 91% said current staffing levels are inappropriate to ensure adequate patient care. 
  • 78% of respondents said they do not have time to provide adequate screening prior to the immunization of a vaccine. 

In response to the survey, the Board established a Medication Error Reduction and Workforce Ad Hoc Committee to consider the issues of medication errors, workforce challenges and the intersection between the two, and undertook review of its regulation of pharmacy technicians. AB 1286 is the result of this work.

The Medication Error Reduction and Patient Safety Act will:

  • Establish a first-in-the-nation mandatory anonymous reporting of medication errors to an independent third-party approved by the Board of Pharmacy
  • Provide minimum staffing for pharmacists who work alone by requiring a technician or clerk to assist the pharmacist from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • Give the Board of Pharmacy authority to issue a cease and desist order within 24 hours if the Board determines the conditions in the pharmacy present an immediate risk of death, illness, or irreparable harm for patients, personnel, and pharmacy staff 
  • Require closures of the pharmacy for lunch breaks where staffing doesn’t overlap

# # #


October 8, 2023

Contact: Jenna Thompson, 949.246.1620, [email protected]