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Pharmacists: Rx technician certification cuts medication errors

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WASHINGTON — Eighty-one percent of pharmacists see pharmacy technician certification as a critical component in reducing medication errors, ensuring patient safety and improving health outcomes, a survey sponsored by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) finds.

The results, unveiled at the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Annual Meeting in March by researcher Shane Desselle, associate dean for Tulsa Programs, chair and professor of the Department of Pharmacy, Clinical and Administrative Sciences, at the University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy, were gathered from a random sample of more than 3,250 pharmacists serving in a variety of practice settings nationwide.

"The data show that the majority of pharmacists — in fact, over 80% of those surveyed — agree that pharmacy technician certification is associated with a reduction in medication errors," PTCB executive director and chief executive Melissa Murer Corrigan said in a statement Thursday. "This survey provides the data to support something we have known for years but are now able to quantify: Well-trained and PTCB-certified pharmacy technicians make a positive impact on patient care."

The survey, administered by Drs. Shane Desselle and Michael Schmitt of the University of Oklahoma College Of Pharmacy, show that pharmacists recognize the value of Certified Pharmacy Technicians (CPhTs) as part of the pharmacy team, with 83% agreeing that working with CPhTs allows pharmacists to spend more time on direct patient care.

"Pharmacists recognize how important it is to be able to rely on well-trained and certified pharmacy technicians as a means to spend more time focusing on patient care and safety," commented Desselle.

As the population ages and medication regimens become more complex, patient-centered care will play a more important role in facilitating safe medication practice, PTCB noted. Pharmacy technician positions are expected to increase by 25% by 2018 to meet this demand.

The board added that the role of pharmacy technicians is to assist pharmacists in dispensing medications, and they are accountable to the supervising pharmacist, who is legally responsible through state licensure for the care and safety of patients served by the pharmacy.


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