Complaints: pharmacist workloads

Extreme workloads are often a contributing factor to pharmacist errors occurring and complaints being made. We find that many errors could have been prevented had the pharmacist responsible for the error slowed down and taken a bit more time in their dispensing process.

When dealing with complaints, we look for contributing factors that led to a complaint. We often provide advice to support pharmacists in preventing a similar incident from happening again. Too often, we hear about the pressures pharmacists are under with extreme workloads, such as

  • high script numbers (up to 400-500 per day) with only a single pharmacist on duty
  • professional services (e.g. vaccinations, MedsChecks) being delivered when the pharmacy is understaffed. While it is great to see pharmacists expanding their professional service offerings, a quality and safe service cannot be assured without appropriate staffing levels.

Traditionally, December is the busiest time of year in community pharmacies. It is therefore a timely reminder for pharmacists, managers and pharmacy proprietors to keep workloads in check and reduce the risk of errors.

For more information and guidance on appropriate workloads, refer to the Pharmacy Board of Australia’s Guidelines for dispensing of Medicines.

The Pharmacists’ Support Service have released a publication titled Managing Stress in Pharmacy: creating a healthier working environment in pharmacy by managing workplace stress which includes a range of tips, resources and references for pharmacists to consider when looking at issues creating stress in a pharmacy workplace. For advice and support outside your workplace, contact the Service on 1300 244 910.