Agencies | Governor
Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Health Professions
Board of Pharmacy
Regulations Governing the Practice of Pharmacy [18 VAC 110 ‑ 20]
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4/5/12  7:57 pm
Commenter: Timothy Ellmers, PharmD (RMH Healthcare)

Work Conditions for Pharmacists

I am a clinical pharmacist at a local regional hospital in Harrisonburg, VA. I have not spent much time in the retail side of pharmacy so I will not be able to make comments in that regard. I would like to speak on behalf of all hospital pharmacists. I can not stress the importance of PATIENT SAFETY! I try to take a step back on all my decisions and think, will the patient be harmed? We do not intend to harm our patients, but we are all human and can make serious mistakes if we are tired without a standard break or long hours. However, when pharmacist are overworked and unable to take a break due to volume issues, mistakes can be made. We belong to a profession that requires perfection and continued alertness so that we can make sure all our T's are crossed and I's are dotted before sending that medication out to the patient.

Don't the patients expect that from us?

When you look at what we as professionals do, we are the phyicians double check. When entering an order, I have to make sure I do not make a mistake PLUS make sure the phyician is not making a mistake. That is a HUGE responsibility that we have to take on each and every day. I have worked long shifts and by 10 to 12 hours of working, my thinking process has slowed and I may miss something important that could affect the safety of the patient that I wouldn't have if I had rested.

The board has an obligation to help protect the safety of the patients we serve. I hope that you can all come to an agreement in regards to regulating the number of continous hours and break requirements a pharmacist can work during a shift. I am glad that the board is taking the time to review this issue as I believe this issue has not gotten the attention it deserves.