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The Final Report of the Collaborative Pharmaceutical Task Force
by Scott A. Meyers, Executive Vice President
The work of the Collaborative Pharmaceutical Task Force is done! The task force members completed their tasks on August 13th at its final meeting and now the work of the General Assembly and the entire pharmacy profession begins! The task force discussed and voted on the 16 charges it was given and added perhaps the most important one of all during its twenty months of deliberations. The work ahead for pharmacy will be to convince the General Assembly to accept all of the task force recommendations, sixteen in all, and possibly ask them to add a few more changes along the way. However, first and foremost, the 16 recommendations will be the highest priority of ICHP members, staff and legislative consultants.
Before I provide you with a summary of the 16 recommendations, let me share with you the current situation we face regarding the Illinois Pharmacy Practice Act. As of today, the Illinois Pharmacy Practice Act sunsets (no longer exists) after December 31, 2019 unless the General Assembly extends the sunset date by statute during the fall veto session (Oct. 28-30 and Nov. 12-14) and the Governor signs the extension before December 31st. The bill that created the Task Force considered that the General Assembly might be able to act on the recommendations during the veto session. However, the likelihood of that is very, very slim. With only six days and the necessary hearing required, the session would have to be void of any other substantive issues and we know that will not be the case. So, the hope of ICHP leadership is that the General Assembly will extend the Practice Act sunset date one-year, which will force all interested parties to sit down and diligently work on the Act during the 2020 Spring session. We will be reaching out to every ICHP member to urge both their State Senator and Representative to support the one-year extension. Stay tuned for next steps after the first of the year.
Summary of the 16 recommendations: (recommendations are paraphrased for brevity)
Recommendation 1: Whistleblower Protection
Anyone reporting violations to IDFPR are specifically protected under the Illinois Whistleblower Act (740 ILCS 174/15(b)).
Recommendation 2: Requirement to Employ At Least One Pharmacy Technician
The Task Force did not recommend a requirement for there to be at least one pharmacy technician on duty whenever the practice of pharmacy is conducted.
Recommendation 3: 10 Prescription per Hour Limit
The Task Force did not recommend a ten prescription per hour limit or 10 hours of technician coverage per 100 prescriptions filled by a pharmacy.
Recommendation 4: Prohibition of Distractions
The Task Force recommended the addition to the Act, or the Rules, a new section titled “Grounds for Discipline” that includes failure to provide a working environment that protects the health, safety and welfare of the patient and includes a mandate of sufficient personnel to prevent fatigue, distraction or other conditions that interfere with the pharmacist’s ability to practice safely.
Recommendation 5: No Work During Break
The Task Force recommended additional language to the “Grounds for Discipline” that includes: failure to provide a working environment that includes appropriate opportunities for uninterrupted rest periods and meal breaks.
Recommendation 6: Triple Pay for No Breaks
The Task Force did not recommend a requirement for triple pay for the entire shift should the meal or rest breaks be denied.
Recommendation 7: Required Break Room
The Task Force did not recommend the requirement that all pharmacies provide a separate break room for rest periods and meal breaks.
Recommendation 8: Required Break Records
The Task Force recommended that all pharmacies be required to retain records of all rest periods and meal breaks.
Recommendation 9: Required 8-Hour Work Day
The Task Force did not recommend setting a maximum shift length of 8 hours per day for pharmacists.
The Task Force did recommend a maximum shift length of 12 hours per day for pharmacists, with the allowance for emergent or other situations.
Recommendation 10: Mandatory Breaks and Lunch Period
The Task Force recommended that pharmacists working longer than 6 hours be allowed a 30-minute meal break and one 15-minute rest period and any pharmacist working twelve continuous hours be allow one additional 15-minute rest period.
Recommendation 11: Maintaining Error Reports
The Task Force recommended that all pharmacies be required to establish a continuous quality improvement (CQI) program to address medication errors and reporting.
Recommendation 12: Report of Prescription Discontinuation
The Task Force recommended that effective January 1, 2021, all pharmacies that use the SCRIPT standard for e-prescribing must be able to receive prescription cancellations and provide acknowledgement to the prescriber.
Recommendation 13: Patient Verification for Auto-Refills
The Task Force recommended that all pharmacies must obtain approval of the patient to participate in auto-refill programs for every prescription that is eligible.
Recommendation 14: Duties of Pharmacy Technicians
The Task Force recommended that:
- Pharmacy technicians must complete standardized accredited training and education to maintain their registration,
- Pharmacy technicians may undertake any task delegated to them if properly trained, including administration of vaccinations, but will not be allowed to perform patient counseling, drug regimen review and clinical conflict resolution,
- Pharmacy technicians and student pharmacists be allowed to transfer prescriptions between pharmacies and receive controlled substance prescriptions from prescribers agents.
Recommendation 15: Employee Terminations
The Task Force did not recommend any new language regarding the reporting of pharmacists or pharmacy technicians to IDFPR if their employment was terminated for patient safety reasons.
Recommendation 16: System for Compensating Pharmacies
The Task Force recommended that the General Assembly appoint a new Task Force to specifically review and revise the current model for pharmacy and pharmacist remuneration.
A complete description of each recommendation, the voting totals for each recommendation, and the rationale in favor or opposed to each recommendation can be found in the complete report to the General Assembly on the ICHP website on its Advocacy page.
As you can see, the task force was thorough in its review of the 16 charges placed before it by the General Assembly and you will also see that while a significant majority supported the recommendations of the task force, there was some dissension and we anticipate that it will continue in Springfield as the General Assembly duly considers each important issue. It appears that the 2020 Spring Session will be a very important one for the future of pharmacy so we hope that each ICHP member will make a concerted effort to remain informed and act when each call for support is sent. While these recommendations do not address every concern we may have with the Pharmacy Practice Act, each of these are important in their own sense. Please be ready to act on behalf of the profession.