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New rules for Ohio pharmacies to halt understaffing and deal with worker stress coming May 1


Starting May 1, Ohio’s pharmacies will be under new rules designed to halt understaffing at those drugstores, and to relieve stress on pharmacy workers and on patients awaiting medications.  

The six new rules came after a survey of pharmacists in 2020 revealed concerns about short staffing, long hours and lack of rest breaks.

"The results we got back were pretty concerning. A lot of them felt a lot of pressure to do a lot with very little," said Cameron McNamee with the Ohio Board of Pharmacy. "There was concern about staffing shortages, and there were some concerns about management not being responsive to their needs."

The board created the Pharmacist Workload Advisory Committee, which took in input from retail chains, independent pharmacies, hospitals as well as pharmacists. The group drafted the rules setting minimum staffing standards and mandatory breaks for pharmacy workers and requiring prescriptions to be filled in under five days.

“We don't want that level of stress to then burn out and then we're dealing with issues where we don't have enough pharmacists to staff our stores and people are having issues getting access to medication," said McNamee.

The new rules state that pharmacies:

  • Have to be appropriately staffed and must "ensure sufficient personnel are scheduled to work at all times in order to minimize fatigue, distraction, or other conditions which interfere with a pharmacist's ability to practice with reasonable competence and safety"
  • Cannot use quotas to limit ancillary services such as immunizations, refill reminders or any other service performed by pharmacy workers besides distributing drugs
  • Must provide rest breaks for pharmacy staff, either by requiring another pharmacist to cover for the pharmacist on a break or closing the pharmacy during the break, and pharmacists cannot be required to work more than 13 hours in any day and must have eight hours off between shifts
  • Have to develop a process by which workers can ask for staffing help or reporting staffing concerns
  • Must dispense medications within three days of receiving a prescription or within five days of getting an automatic refill request
  • Have to develop policies limiting the pharmacy's hours or the ancillary services provided if the pharmacist believes they can't be offered safely, or must not override a pharmacist's decision to limit them

The new rules come after CVS agreed to pay a $1.5 million fine to resolve 27 cases of understaffing and delays against the chain in February and to follow the new rules. But the new rules will affect all Ohio pharmacies.

Contact Karen at 614-578-6375 or at
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