The National Safety Council – America’s leading nonprofit safety advocate – annually observes National Safety Month during the month of June. The NSC focuses on creating awareness to save lives and prevent injuries both inside and outside of the workplace. This year, they are shining a light on pressing topics including Mental Health, Building a Culture of Safety, and Ergonomics.
In the pharmacy world, safety is always a crucial part of caring for patients. From monitoring drug interactions to improving medication adherence, pharmacists have safety measures ingrained in every part of their daily workflow. Now with the addition of an ongoing pandemic, there are extra precautions to be aware of to protect both patients and pharmacy staff. The health crisis has also affected elements of care outside of just managing the spread of COVID-19.
One example of this is the postponement of National Drug Take Back Day. Originally scheduled for April 25, 2020, the event has now been postponed for safety reasons. However, this poses another safety issue of making sure people secure their unused medications and dispose of them properly. Pharmacists can do their part by spreading awareness to their community about drug safety, especially to individuals who usually rely on National Drug Take Back Day.
Independent pharmacies have also been navigating the new territory of operating their essential business while managing the spread of a novel virus. Health organizations have been releasing information to guide pharmacies as they slowly learn more about the way the virus spreads. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released recommended safety precautions for retail pharmacies, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also has a page dedicated to guidance for pharmacies that is updated as new information is released. You can also look to your state pharmacy boards and read the current resources provided for your state.
We have seen an increase in services such as curbside, delivery, and drive-thru to help enforce social distancing. Some pharmacies have closed the inside of their stores, while others have let customers come in with precautions. Now, more pharmacies are beginning to re-open the inside of their stores to the public. It is important to continue mitigating this ongoing pandemic and enforcing safety measures such as:
- Encouraging the use of face masks and gloves
- Installing plexiglass barriers between staff and patients
- Disinfecting surfaces regularly using EPA-approved products for use against SARS-CoV-2
- Enforcing social distancing and limiting the amount of people in the store
- Encouraging the use of curbside, drive-thru, and delivery
- Setting up auto-payment before a patient comes in the store
- Regularly assessing the health status of pharmacy staff and creating a plan for when an employee is exposed to COVID-19
Protect your community against the continuing spread of COVID-19 by enforcing safety measures – and remember to take care of your own mental and physical health.