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Bill requiring pharmacies to report prescription errors comes to Newsom

California state lawmakers approved a bill Thursday that would require pharmacies to report any prescription errors — a measure aimed at reducing the 5 million errors pharmacists make each year.

The bill — AB 1286 — still must be signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has not indicated whether he supports it. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The temperature detailed earlier this month how Californians have been harmed by mistakes made by pharmacists, most occurring at drugstore chains such as CVS and Walgreens. Pharmacists at these stores often fill hundreds of prescriptions during a shift, all while providing vaccines, calling doctors to confirm prescriptions and working the cash register.

In a survey of California licensed pharmacists in 2021, 91% of people working at chain pharmacies said there were not enough staff to provide adequate patient care.

The bill, authored by San Francisco Assemblyman and Democrat Matt Haney, would also require pharmacies to have a technician or clerk to assist the pharmacist for much of the day.

He encountered opposition from California Community Pharmacy Coalitiona lobbying group representing retail pharmacies, including major chains.

Pharmacy chains said errors are rare and they have measures in place to ensure patient safety.

The state Board of Pharmacy sponsored the bill. The board, which regulates pharmacies, said it did not know whether the number of prescription errors had increased or decreased because pharmacies are not required to report them.

The Times found that the errors included cases in which pharmacists gave customers the wrong medication, too high or too low a dosage, or dangerously incorrect instructions for taking the medication.

Some errors were serious. Nearly 9,000 Americans die each year because of prescription errors. according to a study.

Under the bill, error reports would not be made public. Instead, pharmacies would send it to a third party, which would provide anonymized information to the board of pharmacies.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Council of the West, which was among the groups that supported the bill, praised its approval by lawmakers on Thursday.

“We have seen our member pharmacy staff become increasingly overwhelmed by their workload over the past several years and it is time for California to ensure that our community pharmacies reduce the factors that can cause medication errors said Todd Walters, president of UFCW Local 135.

Los Angeles Times

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