(BCN) — A bill seeking to address understaffing and medication errors in chain pharmacies in California is now headed to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk.
State lawmakers have recently passed Assembly Bill 1286 or the Stop Dangerous Pharmacies Act after months of negotiations with chain pharmacies, labor groups and regulators, bill proponent Assemblymember Matt Haney, D-San Francisco, announced Friday.
AB 1286 creates first-in-the-nation regulations to crack down on understaffed chain pharmacies making medication errors, Haney’s office said. They added that if the bill is signed into law, California will become “a national leader in pharmacy safety.”
“Shockingly, there’s no centralized reporting mechanism for medication errors,” Haney said in a statement Friday. “There should be transparency, and the Board of Pharmacy should have the authority to respond to protect patients. That’s not happening right now.”
The proposed law requires corporate chain pharmacies to report all medication errors as well as provide baseline pharmacy staffing rules to ensure that California pharmacists are receiving the support they need as they fill prescriptions, and give injections.
AB 1286 gives licensed pharmacy staff more autonomy over staffing and working conditions so they can provide better patient care and services for Californians.
It also provides pathways for temporary pharmacy closure in the rare and dangerous situation where a pharmacist feels the work environment has been compromised, is life threatening to patients, and that store management has not worked to abate the issue.
California pharmacies are reportedly making almost 5 million medication errors a year, but the state Board of Pharmacy can only estimate that number because currently, pharmacies are not required to report medication errors, Haney’s office said.
While the direct causes of each medication error are currently unknown, nearly 91 percent of pharmacists in a recent survey conducted by the California Board of Pharmacy report that staffing was not high enough to provide adequate patient care.
Meanwhile, over 83 percent of pharmacists reported that they did not have sufficient time to provide appropriate consultations to patients to make sure they understand how to safely take their medications.
Medication errors can have serious repercussions for patients leading to severe illness, permanent disability, and death, Haney’s office said.
Decisions about staffing and safety are usually made by the management of a chain store rather than the pharmacist who has undertaken years of education to safely provide sometimes dangerous medications, they added.
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