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Tech-Check-Tech . . . Is it Coming for Pharmacy Technicians?

Tech-Check-Tech is Back in the press for Some Pharmacy Technicians

Well, at least in the pharmacy world press, I am not sure if most citizens care too much. Earlier this year, California passed legislation that would allow for tech-check-tech in hospital settings (so not retail) and for those who undergo more pharmacy technician training. There a re now a handful of states that allow for tech-check-tech.

My apologies, you may be wondering what tech-check-tech is. It is when it is legal for one pharmacy technician to check another pharmacy technician’s work as the final check without the need for a pharmacist unless the checking pharmacy technician feels that he or she needs a pharmacist consult. The reason hospitals are more often considered versus retail pharmacies is because in hospitals there are additional lines of defense, namely the nurse. Most hospitals are also using bedside barcoding to ensure that the correct medication is being dispensed based on the medication barcode. In fact, my health system hospitals are not only doing bedside barcoding, we are implementing pharmacy barcoding for accuracy.

What does this mean for you? It means their will be more potential for job growth (more jobs), more opportunity for higher paying jobs (those who meet tech-check-tech will get paid more), and more opportunities for advancement (more levels in the pharmacy technician ranks provide for career development).

I do not practice in California, so currently my state does not have tech-check-tech. It is in discussion, and if my state present legislation for 2012 it will be very similar to California in that it will be for settings where barcoding technology is in place, for hospital settings (although I could see long-term care as well), and of course more advance pharmacy technician training.

It is exciting to think about this again. When I was in the military (I did a stint in the Navy . . . I will try not to break out in song), we had tech-check-tech available for senior level pharmacy technicians and I thought it was pretty dang cool. I also think about the opportunity this will create for hospital based pharmacists to focus on clinical pharmacy tasks related to appropriate medication selection for patients and monitoring adverse effects, while our pharmacy technician core focus on getting the right drug up to the patient.

For those wondering if this is safer or not, a few studies were published many years ago that looked at checking accuracy of pharmacy technicians versus pharmacists. Guess who was more accurate? If you guessed technicians, then you are right. The reason this may be so is the fact that a pharmacist in central is often trying to do various things, they are not always focused on the task at hand and are often distracted. If you have a technician who can focus more and is looking for specific things, then they are more likely to catch the error.

In any case, the future for pharmacy technicians is looking even brighter. For those looking at pharmacy technician as a career, we may soon see levels of pharmacy technicians on a regular basis (we already have levels in my health-system).

On a last funny note. I happen to notice punctuation errors (and yes I make them too, so you should call me on it. Especially since I often write and only re-read once for time efficiency), and my wife found a quote that I think is supper funny:

Let’s eat Grandpa

Let’s eat, Grandpa

Punctuation! It could save a life.

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