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The Importance of Pharmacy Technician Training

Discussion on a news article stating our lack of consistency in pharmacy technician training

Pharmacy Technician TrainingI was perusing through some pharmacy news about pharmacy errors and found an article from a couple of years ago about a bad error made by a pharmacy technician. The error was related to simply entering the wrong dose of a medication in the system (10 mg versus the prescribed 1 mg of a blood thinner, the article does not say, but this is most likely warfarin). The pharmacist, who is ultimately responsible, did not catch the error. Walgreen’s had to pay $25.8 million in a settlement since the patient had a debilitating stroke as a result. What I found interesting is that the article by ABC news focused on the fact that the pharmacy technician was a teenager and had no more training than a fast food employee.

From my perspective, there are positives and negatives to this article. Some negatives are that they focused on the technician when the pharmacist is the responsible person, the second is that none of the safety features in place in this store were able to prevent the error. I believe that pharmacies have gotten better at catching errors, but they can still happen. I also feel very bad for the pharmacy technician. She lived in a state that did not require much at the time to become a pharmacy technician. The positives are the fact that it was brought to light that we have so much inconsistency in state by state requirements for becoming a pharmacy technician. This happened in the state of Florida, in 2011 the state increased it’s requirements to become a pharmacy technician. This included ASHP approved pharmacy technician training courses.

What does this mean for you? Well, this article is 2 years old. But, many states still require next to nothing to become a pharmacy technician. Don’t take the chance by doing next to nothing. At minimum, get nationally certified. To do this requires some studying that will provide you with some level of understanding and training. Ideally, find a training program that fits your budget and go through the course. If possible, try and complete an externship. It will provide you a nice training environment where you are an extra person and you can do things slower and learn from a seasoned pharmacy technician and pharmacist.

I worried a little about sharing this article. I thought it might scare some people. As a pharmacy director, I want you to have some degree of fear. Taking care of patients is a serious job that requires a level of professionalism and attention to your job that you do not need in a fast food restaurant. If you do not gain that healthy level of respect, then you could cause an error that results in harming a patient.

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