Proposed Illinois state law would require more breaks, lighter workload for pharmacists

Illinois may change its state pharmacy regulations to require more breaks and lighter workloads for pharmacists in an effort to promote safer drug dispensing, according to the Chicago Tribune.

A task force formed under Illinois Gov. J.B. Prizker's administration recommended that pharmacists have one uninterrupted 30-minute meal break and a 15-minute break after working six consecutive hours. For a 12-hour shift, common at chains and independent pharmacies, pharmacists would get an additional 15-minute break.

No breaks are currently required under state law.

The proposed law change would require employers to maintain an accurate record of breaks, and pharmacies could be disciplined if they don't allow pharmacists adequate time to review a patient's drug history, give immunizations, answer customer questions and verify prescription accuracy.

Under the draft law, the pharmacy, pharmacist and pharmacist-in-charge could receive written warnings or fines that would be posted online and could not be expunged. Repeat violations could lead to probation or license revocation, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Enforcement would come through customer and pharmacy worker complaints and state pharmacy inspectors.

The legislation would also ensure pharmacists are protected under whistleblower statutes to encourage pharmacists to report abuses with safeguards against retaliation.

The task force also recommended expanding pharmacy technicians' duties to include administering vaccinations or immunizations after receiving training and transferring prescriptions between pharmacies.

Teamsters Local 727, a union that represents pharmacists in some Chicago-area Jewel-Osco and CVS pharmacies, said the proposed changes don't go far enough, as shifts should be capped at eight hours.

Illinois Rep. Mike Zalewski said in an email to the Chicago Tribune that he is working to incorporate the task force's recommendations into a renewal of the Illinois pharmacy act that is about to expire, but lawmakers could choose to consider the proposed changes at a later time.

Read the full article here.

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