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3 ways pharmacists need to protect their licenses

Pharmacists have taken on an increasingly complex role in this nation. Their jobs are no longer limited to simply filling prescriptions. To some extent, they've now become medical providers in their own right just about everywhere.

There not all particularly pleased to be handed an expanded role, however. For many, it means a lot of expanded liabilities -- including the risk of losing their professional license.

What should today's pharmacist know about the law?

Find out the limitations of your authority

Knowing the full scope of your abilities when it comes to prescriptions is important when it comes to avoiding charges of professional malpractice.

Depending on local and state regulations, you may be limited to prescribing flu shots and a few other vaccinations. You might also have the authority to prescribe limited amounts of numerous drugs to cover a gap when a patient abruptly runs out of a badly-needed medication and the prescribing physician is unavailable.

Keep in mind that the laws change often in today's world. You absolutely have to stay abreast of changes as they happen to avoid charges of malpractice.

Don't rely on automation too much

Some of the most common types of pharmacy malpractice errors are the age-old "wrong patient, wrong drug, wrong dose" type of errors.

It's easy to get lulled into a false sense of security by all of the automation in a modern pharmacy. However, you can't always rely on the computer to alert you to things like whether or not a patient has an allergy to a certain drug component. While computers do catch a lot of potential errors, the responsibility to check the drug for safety (compared to a patient's profile and other medications), the dosage to make sure it is right and the patient's identity falls on the pharmacist alone.

Never shirk warnings

It can be easy to skip over the myriad of drug warnings on a prescription when a customer is in a hurry and there's a line of others waiting. Don't give into temptation. Failing to properly warn a customer of a drug's dangers is a necessary part of the job. Doing any less could cost you your license.

While liability insurance can protect you financially, there's no guarantee that a mistake won't cost you the license you worked so hard to get and your career. Stay informed -- and stay sharp -- to be safe.

Source: ModernMedicine, "Prescribing rights: Worth it?," accessed March 27, 2018

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