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New rules aim to fix Ohio pharmacy understaffing issues.png Getty Images

New rules aim to fix Ohio pharmacy understaffing issues

Retailers required to ensure adequate staffing, timely fulfillment of prescriptions

Following multiple service disruptions at retail pharmacies in Ohio during the last few years, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy is implementing new rules that seek to prevent understaffing.

The new rules, which take effect May 1, require that pharmacies have adequate staffing levels and that they provide uninterrupted, 30-minute breaks for pharmacy employees working six hours or more. Pharmacies are also prohibited from requiring employees to work more than 13 hours in a day, and they must allow employees to have eight hours off between shifts.

The new rules were created as result of the work of the Ohio Pharmacist Workload Advisory Committee, with feedback from pharmacy professionals. The new rules follow widespread complaints from pharmacy staff about excessive workloads, and findings of safety violations at CVS locations resulting in more than $1.5 million in fines.

The rules also prohibit pharmacies from using quotas for measuring workers’ performance of auxiliary services such as immunizations and medication therapy management. In addition, pharmacies must have policies that allow pharmacists to limit the provision of ancillary services if, in the pharmacist’s professional judgment, they cannot be provided safely or if they negatively impact patient access to medications. The policies must include an offer by pharmacy staff to make an appointment for a patient or refer a patient to another location offering ancillary services such as immunizations.

Timely prescription fulfillment

After reports of long delays in filling prescriptions at some pharmacies, the new rules require pharmacies to fill new prescriptions within no more than three days in most cases. Refill prescriptions generated by a pharmacy auto-refill program must be filled within five days of receiving the prescription.

If pharmacies cannot fill prescriptions in a timely manner, they must make changes to their operations, such as adding staff or cutting operating hours, or they must transfer prescriptions to another pharmacy.

Retailers also need to have a system in place that allows pharmacists to request additional staff or report staffing concerns, and management must respond to those requests in writing within 14 business days, without retaliating against or disciplining a pharmacist who makes the request.

“The pharmacy [management] shall review all requests and reports of concern submitted and shall resolve any issues listed in a timely manner to ensure a safe working environment for pharmacy staff,” according to the new rules, a copy of which were provided to Supermarket News.

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