Recently, the whole pharmacy community was watching how an Albertsons pharmacy technician in Boise was the first in the nation to administer an immunization. This was possible thanks to a new Idaho law addressing a shortage of healthcare providers in the state. Under the new law, pharmacy technicians willing to increase the scope of their responsibilities undergo a board-approved training for administering immunizations to pharmacy patients. The pilot program was developed with the help of Washington State University College of Pharmacy, which is currently monitoring immunizations provided by Idaho technicians, their effect on improving access to care, and any adverse effects. The data will be used to better utilize the skills of pharmacy technicians and help ease the time burden on pharmacists.
Other states are interested in similar programs for their technicians; however, California is not one of them. Under the current California law, pharmacy technicians are not allowed to perform any tasks in excess of express provisions of the Board of Pharmacy’s regulations. Technicians’ duties should be limited to packaging, manipulative, repetitive or other nondiscretionary tasks. Also, technicians in California must always be directly supervised and controlled by a pharmacist (that means that when a pharmacist is absent, pharmacy technicians should not be performing any professional tasks, but may still perform pharmacy clerk duties, such as working at a cash register or answering the phone). The pharmacist remains responsible for any acts performed by the technicians. The ratio in California remains two technicians per pharmacist (does not apply for inpatient facilities).
If you decide to give your technicians more responsibilities, consider whether these additional tasks involve discretionary duties. Our firm has defended numerous pharmacies and pharmacists in similar matters (i.e. allegations regarding tasking technicians with compounding or consulting patients). It is understandable that pharmacists are overwhelmed with the number of tasks that need to be performed, however – unless you live in Idaho – giving your technicians more responsibility may subject you and your pharmacy to unnecessary issues with the Board of Pharmacy.