Topics: News, Press

Senate Committee Keeps Community Pharmacy Patients Safe

Sacramento, CA – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Western States Council applauded the Assembly Business and Professions Committee for passing AB 1286 (Haney), which will begin to alleviate the chronic understaffing of community pharmacies and pharmacist burnout that puts patients at risk of medication errors.

“It is important to ensure that pharmacists and pharmacy staff alike are protected in our workplaces so they can handle the increased demand and workload in patient care without compromising quality care and safety,” said Andrea Zinder, president, UFCW Local 324. “As our state continues to rely on pharmacists for essential healthcare needs, we need to provide them with the safe workplaces and staffing they need to do their number one job – keep California’s patients safe. AB 1286 is an important public health bill and we thank the Assembly Business and Professions committee for passing it.”

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:

  • Ensure mandatory medication error reporting to an independent third party.
  • Establish a minimum staffing requirement and require closures of the pharmacy for lunch breaks where staffing doesn’t overlap.
  • Give pharmacists authority to shut down the pharmacy for unsafe working conditions like unsafe pharmacy temperatures and dangerous staffing levels.  
  • Increase the Board of Pharmacy’s citation and fine authority for unlicensed activity.

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April 18, 2023

Contact: Jenna Thompson, 949.246.1620, [email protected]