The State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy issued new requirements to implement safeguards to allow pharmacy professionals employed by a terminal distributor to practice pharmacy in a safe and effective manner.
The Ohio Pharmacy Board issued the following (emphasis added):
Section 4729.55 of the Revised Code requires a pharmacy to implement adequate safeguards that allow pharmacy professionals employed by a terminal distributor to practice pharmacy in a safe and effective manner. This includes implementing safeguards to protect pharmacy professionals (pharmacists, interns, technician, and support personnel) and patients during a public health emergency.
To comply with the requirements of section 4729.55 of Revised Code, the Board has determined the following steps shall be implemented by all pharmacies located in Ohio starting no later than 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 19, 2020 to ensure the practice of pharmacy can be conducted in a safe and effective manner:
- For pharmacies open to the public, consider developing a process for older adults (60+), pregnant women, and individuals with chronic health conditions to pick up medications without waiting in line (i.e. post signs directing to drive-thru, offer curb-side delivery, mail delivery, senior hours, etc.).
- Implement infection control procedures, especially for waiting areas, to include the following:
- Pharmacies with workspaces that currently allow patients to get closer than the minimum recommended distance of 3 feet should post signage or utilize other methods to ensure patients who are waiting are maintained at a safe distance. NOTE: This does not apply to patients who must interact with pharmacy staff (i.e. for purposes of payment, immunizations, etc.) or pharmacies that are not open to the public.
- Pharmacists and pharmacy interns shall no longer be permitted to administer immunizations or other injections without standard protective measures, which includes gloves and proper hand hygiene (i.e. routinely washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds). Standard protective measures do not include the use of masks or gowns.
- Pharmacists and pharmacy interns shall not administer any immunizations or other injections to patients displaying or reporting symptoms of respiratory illness, including any of the following:
- Fever (NOTE: This does not require mandatory temperature checks);
- Cough; or
- Shortness of breath.
- Pharmacy professionals who are older adults, pregnant women, or individuals with chronic health conditions shall not be prohibited from wearing appropriate PPE to operate within a pharmacy.
- Regularly clean and disinfect counters, credit/debit card devices, waiting areas, and other spaces where public interaction occurs with an EPA-approved disinfectant. Clean at least every hour or after every 10 patients, whichever is more frequent. If cleaning and disinfecting products are in short supply, the Ohio Department of Health has developed the following guidance. Read here.
- If available, place alcohol-based hand sanitizer next to the checkout window so people can sanitize their hands after using common items, like the pen used to sign for prescriptions or devices used to process credit/debit card transactions. REMINDER: Manual signatures from patients are not required by Board of Pharmacy rule (see Important COVID-19 Reminders section of this guidance document for more information).
- Provide regular breaks for staff to engage in proper hand hygiene (i.e. routinely washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds).
- Monitor pharmacy staff for symptoms of respiratory illness, including any of the following:
- Fever (NOTE: This does not require mandatory temperature checks. However, the Ohio Department of Health recommends pharmacies take staff temperatures once per shift);
- Cough; or
- Shortness of breath.
Staff exhibiting or reporting any of these symptoms must be sent home.
Failure to comply with the requirements set forth in this document may result in administrative discipline for the pharmacy and the pharmacy’s responsible person.