1st bill in US to target understaffed pharmacies lands on California governor's desk

California is one legislative signature away from becoming the first state to legally require chain pharmacies to report all medication errors and create staffing level guidelines, according to CBS News

On Sept. 14, California's Senate passed Assembly Bill 1286, or the Stop Dangerous Pharmacies Act, which seeks to provide pharmacists more autonomy over staffing and working conditions. The proposed law now waits for Gov. Gavin Newsom's final signature.

If approved, pharmacists-in-charge at retail pharmacies would "make staffing decisions to ensure sufficient personnel are present in the pharmacy to prevent fatigue, distraction, or other conditions that may interfere with a pharmacist's ability to practice competently and safely," the bill says. 

In early September, amid months of negotiations with pharmacies, labor groups and regulators over this bill, a report found that understaffed California pharmacies are leading to more than 5 million medication errors every year. The American Pharmacists Association said media reports about these findings misinterpreted the root issue.

"[In] a just culture that encourages anonymous error reports, individuals shouldn't be punished for unintentional errors that happen, nor should organizations be punished," APhA said in a Sept. 8 news release. "These are teachable moments to implement systems changes to improve care and reduce or eliminate errors, and focusing on punishment and individual blame discourages that."

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