Topics: News, Press

Senate Ensures Patients Using Community Pharmacy are Safe

Sacramento, CA – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Western States Council applauded the California State Assembly 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.

“California has increasingly relied on pharmacists to provide healthcare to patients. When that’s coupled with understaffing, it leads to burnout for pharmacists, pharmacy techs and all pharmacy staff,” said Andrea Zinder, president, UFCW Local 324. “AB 1286 is critically 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. UFCW members are proud that the Assembly saw the need for this important public health legislation.”

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 rodent infestations, unsafe pharmacy temperatures and dangerous staffing levels.  
  • Increase the Board of Pharmacy’s citation and fine authority for unlicensed activity.

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June 1, 2023

Contact: Jenna Thompson, 949.246.1620, [email protected]