Pharmacy workload puts patients at risk: union

More patients, budget cuts and lack of new hires are putting patients’ health at risk according to a survey of institutional pharmacy technicians conducted by the province’s largest health care workers union. The Federation of Health and Social Services (FSSS-CSN) unveiled the results which shows 88% of respondents report being constantly pressed for time due to a heavy workload.

There are 987 Senior Pharmacy Technician Assistants (ATSP) and Pharmacy Technical Assistants (ATP) in the public health and social services network who are responsible for preparing medicines in network facilities and must constantly adapt to new systems and technologies while being entrusted with more responsibilities.

“The weight that senior technical assistants in pharmacy have on their shoulders is shifting to services to the population. When a hospital pharmacy fails to respond to requests, patients wait longer and the risk of error increases, “says pharmacy technical assistant and regional union vice-president Marie-Line Séguin.

Respondents were near unanimous in noting that their work has become more demanding over time caused mostly by lack of staff, increase in patients and structural changes. Patients are increasingly put at risk of medication and transcription errors say 87% of respondents, with half of all technicians reporting delays in responding to requests from pharmacists and/or physicians.

Nearly three quarters reported having done overtime in the last six months and 79% say they went to work sick in the last 12 months, and 97% report that absent colleagues are not replaced. Workers say wage increases, increased staffing and continuing education are the leading solutions to the crisis.

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