Blog by Directions in Pharmacy, www.pharmacytimes.com

Technicians play a key role in this vital element of pharmacy operations, protecting drug efficacy and against errors.

Over the past 20 years, the expectations and roles of pharmacy staff members have changed drastically to meet the ever-changing demands of health care.

Pharmacists have taken on a greater role providing direct patient care as clinicians, resulting in greater reliance on pharmacy technicians. Among the many areas traditionally overseen by pharmacists where technicians have assumed responsibility, medication storage may be one of the most important. Medication storage is a vital element in pharmacy operations that affects many areas, from clinical practice to regulatory compliance. Improper storage of medications can result in a decrease in drug efficacy and may also lead to medication errors.

According to the World Health Organization, “Unsafe medication practices and medication errors are a leading cause of injury and avoidable harm in health care systems across the world,” and because pharmacies are usually the last stop in the drug supply chain, technicians play an essential role in ensuring medication quality, from procurement through dispensation to patients.1

There is more to medication storage than meets the eye. Too often, the detail and effort that technicians put into complying with medication storage requirements are overlooked. Technicians are expected to understand proper medication handling, monitoring, and storage requirements, and without their expertise, pharmacies would lack crucial knowledge. Technicians face many challenges when storing medications, including environmental factors, hazardous material handling, identifying high-alert medications, legal requirements, location limitations, and specific manufacturer precautions. Without the commitment and dedication that technicians put into every aspect of their job, otherwise avoidable incidents might occur.