State boards address errors

While national organizations are setting the priorities and tone of medication error oversight, state pharmacy boards and associations are at work at the community pharmacy level. Initiatives in North Carolina, Tennessee, and California are focusing on the relationship between workload and medication errors, includng newly adopted regulations and others being considered.

In North Carolina, a regulation has been adopt ed to hold employers equally liable in medication error cases at times when a pharmacist’s daily prescription workload exceeds 150. The state board also is weighing a proposal to prohibit pharmacists from working more than 12 continuous hours in one day and to require 15- and 30-minute breaks every six hours. North Carolina officials also are looking at regulations to hold pharmacist-managers responsible for "all documents, labels, vials, supplies, substances, and internal investigative reports relating to the event" that would be turned over to the state board during an investigation.

In Tennessee, a regulation adopted this year designates a pharmacist-in-charge who must report to the state board "any situation in which a medical or prescription order has caused serious personal injury or death."

The California Pharmacists Association is conducting a tracking and reporting study aimed at compiling adverse reaction data while trying to determine whether the effects of pharmacist workloads and the use of technicians play a definitive role in medication errors.

For more on state initiatives, contact the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy at (847) 698-6227.