Quite like Starbucks, a Walgreens Pharmacy is probably within 5 miles of you in several different directions. Walgreens locations number in the thousands and exist in all states in the U.S. They fill billions of prescriptions each year and also experience their share of dispensing errors. Many claims of pharmacy negligence and malpractice originated against Walgreens Pharmacies. As a matter of statistics, this shouldn’t be too surprising, considering human involvement (and room for human error) along the way. But the surprising fact lies in the “who” – as in…
…who is REALLY filling your prescriptions?
Studies have shown that many pharmacies rely on “pharmacy technicians” to fill prescriptions. These technicians (not pharmacists) themselves fill most orders. Many pharmacies and state boards require that an actual pharmacist double-checks every prescription filled by a technician, but, sadly, many errors still make it through.
The requirements for being hired as a pharmacy technician are minimal in most states:
- Many states require a high school diploma or to be working toward a GED
- Pharmacies have varying training levels, and some only require their technicians to watch a video before they have them start filling prescriptions.
- Many state boards (including Texas) do not require any formal training or certifications of its technicians, and state “on the job training” is sufficient.
What Tasks are Performed By a Pharmacy Technician?
Pharmacy technicians take on almost all the responsibilities of a pharmacist, including:
- Reading and interpreting medication orders
- Preparing and filling prescription orders
- Inputting patient information
- Labeling of prescription bottles
In sworn testimony in a wrongful death suit brought against Walgreens, a pharmacy technician testified that other Walgreens employees, including stock workers, were sometimes brought in to work behind the pharmacy counter when the store was very busy. Wow!
You can imagine the pay difference between having multiple pharmacists on staff vs. numerous high school grads and one pharmacist. Let’s face it. Corporations are looking for healthy bottom lines, but to what cost?
Pharmacy errors are a real thing, and pharmacies and patients need to acknowledge that they can happen anytime. Your vigilance and the pharmacist’s are essential to the health and well-being of the consumer population. Check and double-check your prescriptions and never skip the counseling offered.
If you have suffered from a medication or prescription error, contact our board-certified attorneys at 713-425-6445 for a free case review, or order our FREE e-book: “Making Pharmacies Pay for Their Errors.”