Feedback for Exemptions and Exclusions Under the Employment Standards Act

Pharmacist  ·  Nov. 17, 2017

Pharmacists need eating and rest periods and limits on hours worked. It is unsafe for the public to require pharmacists to work 8 hour (and sometimes 14 or 16 hour) shifts without the ability to eat or rest or even go to the bathroom sometimes. I feel the public is not even aware of these unsafe conditions that pharmacists work under. I doubt many members of the public would want a hungry/exhausted pharmacist checking the dose and suitability and accuracy of the product dispensed for themselves or a loved one.
However, there should still be the requirement of a pharmacist on site for all open hours. I feel it would be unsafe to be open and allow patients to self select otc, or purchase btc items, or collect prescriptions without pharmacist consultation available. Even when a regulated technician is on staff, a pharmacist should still be present to complete a therapeutic review and sign off on refill prescriptions before the patient receives the medication. It seems like an option to allow the pharmacist to call a patient later on the phone, but I don't think that would work. It is very challenging to reach people on the phone and pharmacist's time is already stretched too far. Also, a patient should not receive a medication and leave the pharmacy if they are unsure how and when and why they are using the medication. We often don't even have a chance to go to the washroom during a busy shift. As pharmacists, we work very hard to give patients the best possible care, but is the care given by an exhausted/hungry pharmacist at the end of a 16 hour shift or at the end of three back to back 12 hour shifts the same level of care and attention as during reasonable shifts with the same rest periods afforded to most other working Ontarians? I think that this really is a patient safety issue, and that pharmacists save lives on a regular basis. It would be irresponsible for pharmacies to operate without a pharmacist present, but it is also endangering patients when the pharmacist present is exhausted and/or hungry as a result of long work hours without any rest periods.

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