Illinois Considers Mandatory Pharmacy Breaks

October 28, 2019

Governor Pritzker pushing for lighter pharmacy workloads.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration is looking for additional state regulations that would mandate more breaks for pharmacists and lighter workloads.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the move comes after a task force formed in the wake of their investigation last year in which 52% of 255 Chicago-area pharmacies failed to warn about dangerous drug combinations. 

One of the major proposed changes involves mandatory breaks for pharmacists, especially during long shifts. Under the plan, pharmacists would be guaranteed a 30-minute meal break and an additional 15-minute break when working for at least 6 hours. For pharmacists who work a 12-hour shift, they would also be given another 15-minute break. 

While some pharmacies like Walgreens have rolled out meal breaks in some states for pharmacists (which, according to the Chicago Tribune, they plan to roll out nationwide next year), breaks are currently not mandated by law.

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Pharmacies could also be fined for not providing pharmacists adequate time for performing tasks like vaccinations, answering patient questions, or reviewing medication histories.

Task force chairman Philip Burgess tells Drug Topics that “the overriding issue that the Task Force focused on was ‘improving patient care.’ Many of our recommendations were intended to highlight the evolving role of pharmacists to allow them to better focus on patient care by decreasing stress, decreasing distractions, prohibiting arbitrary production quotas, and increasing utilization of technicians.”

The task force also recommended increasing the responsibilities of pharmacy technicians, such as allowing them to perform vaccinations.