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Pharmacists overworked, understaffed

Have you ever felt stressed and exhausted at the end of an unusually long shift, to the point of knowing you are at much greater risk of making a mistake on the job? Imagine having that feeling when someone’s health — or even life –may be on the line.

According to a report by Ohio’s Board of Pharmacy, approximately half of the state’s pharmacists say they do not have time to complete their job safely — that they are overworked and understaffed. There is fear that shifts as long as 13 hours, combined with limited support staff and even (in some cases) the lack of breaks for lunch and other necessities, will lead to more than just exhaustion for the pharmacists. It could lead to a deadly mistake.

Those who took the survey made comments such as “12 hours is too long for single pharmacist to work. It is unsafe after about hour 10: eye fatigue, brain fatigue, and not as fresh and alert as at beginning of shift.”

One went so far as to say “After 20 years of working at the same retail pharmacy and being asked to do more and more… with inadequate ancillary help; I recently decided to step away from pharmacy completely. My MAIN reason was because I did not feel safe — the environment was set up for me to fail and it was only a matter of time before I would make a horrific mistake.”

According to an NBC News analysis of the report, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy’s advisory committee will make recommendations based on the survey’s findings later this year. Let us hope they take the concerns of these overworked pharmacists seriously, and issue recommendations to alleviate the problem, before it costs a life.

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