As a pharmacy technician you are an integral part of the pharmacy team. Here are three things that you can do to support safer and more effective patient care in your practice.
At the end of the page, you’ll find a printable PDF to support the activities discussed in this article.
1. Understand Your Expanded Scope
Regulatory changes have enabled pharmacy technicians to provide COVID-19 and influenza vaccinations and to administer specific point-of-care tests.
Know the requirements for providing COVID and influenza vaccinations
Pharmacy technicians are permitted to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to all age groups while under the supervision of a Part A pharmacist, as explained in the Administration of COVID-19 Vaccine by Pharmacy Professionals Guidance. Pharmacy technicians are also authorized to administer a publicly funded influenza vaccine by injection, as part of Ontario’s Universal Influenza Immunization Program to a patient who is two years or older.
When administering COVID-19 and influenza vaccines, you should be familiar with the Administering a Substance by Injection or Inhalation Guideline. Of note, pharmacy technicians must complete an injection training course and register their training with the College prior to performing any injections.
Know when you can perform point-of-care tests (POCT)
Pharmacy technicians are now permitted to perform certain POCT to assist patients with the management of their medication to treat chronic disease. You must be under the direction of a Part A pharmacist who is physically present on the premises at the time of the POCT and comply with all other requirements in the Piercing the Dermis for Demonstration and Point-of-Care Tests Guideline.
2. Support Use of the Medication Safety Program at Your Pharmacy
If you are practicing within a hospital or other pharmacy setting, ensure you are complying with the requirements of your organization’s policies and programs for reporting medication incidents and near misses.
If you are practicing at a community pharmacy, ensure you understand and are engaged with the Assurance and Improvement in Medication Safety (AIMS) Program, which has the goal of reducing the risk of patient harm caused by medication incidents in, or involving, Ontario pharmacies. As members of the pharmacy team and regulated healthcare professionals, pharmacy technicians are expected to fully participate in the program by recording medication incidents and near misses in the AIMS Pharmapod platform and taking part in the pharmacy’s processes of analyzing events and sharing learnings.
Consider becoming an AIMS Champion for your pharmacy
An AIMS Champion, with their commitment to medication safety, identifies opportunities to optimize workflow and processes, encourages a safety culture, and works collaboratively with the rest of the pharmacy team.
Pharmacy technicians are well positioned to take this leadership role, which could include completing regular entry of medication incidents and near misses into the AIMS Pharmapod platform, ensuring pharmacy staff are aware of the requirements of the AIMS Program, tracking pharmacy progress on action items, and facilitating opportunities to analyze recent events and share learnings in a positive and collaborative way with the pharmacy team.
Recognize near misses and record them
Near misses – events that could have led to inappropriate medication use or patient harm but did not reach the patient – provide valuable insight into areas of risk and may indicate where systems can be improved to prevent patient harm. The recording of near misses is a critical component of the AIMS Program.
A simple way to consider the difference between a near miss and an incident is to think of the pickup counter as the dividing line of sorts. If it crosses that line and the patient has it in their hands, it’s a medication incident. If someone on the pharmacy team catches the error prior to it getting into the hands of the patient, it’s a near miss.
It’s important to record near misses and perform a root cause analysis because it gives you insight into a process that might not be working properly. When thinking about whether to record a near miss, professional judgement should be used, and two important considerations are whether the near miss is recurring, and the potential for harm. Different team members may not be aware that a particular event is recurring (for example, it happens on a Monday morning, then again in an evening when someone different is working) if it is not captured in the platform and the information is not being analyzed and shared. Learn more in the article AIMS Program: Exercise Professional Judgment When Deciding to Record a Near Miss.
3. Explore Upcoming Changes to Standards of Practice
For more than a decade, pharmacy professionals in Ontario have been required to follow the Model Standards of Practice (MSOPs) developed by the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities (NAPRA) and adopted by the College – one set of standards for pharmacists and one for pharmacy technicians. While there are differences in the scope of practice for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, their core focus on quality care and patient safety is aligned.
That’s why, in November 2021, NAPRA approved new Model Standards of Practice for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians in Canada that harmonizes the two former MSOPs into one.
The College is exploring whether to adopt or adapt these new model standards and replace the existing individual pharmacist and pharmacy technician MSOPs. For now, the current MSOPs remain in effect. In the meantime, you are encouraged to do the following:
Know the high-level themes in the new model standards
The new, harmonized document will enable both pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to have a deeper understanding and appreciation of their individual roles and how they fit together to work collaboratively to optimize care for patients.
Understand what’s included in each domain
To assist pharmacy professionals to understand each domain in the new model standards, the College has prepared a series of Pharmacy Connection articles. You are encouraged to read each article to understand the standards encompassed by the domains: Domain 1 – Providing Care, Domain 2 – Knowledge and Expertise, Domain 3 – Communication and Collaboration, Domain 4 – Leadership and Stewardship and Domain 5 – Professionalism.
Provide your feedback during our upcoming consultation
In the coming months, the College will be reaching out to registrants for feedback on whether these new Model Standards of Practice should be adopted or adapted by the College. You are strongly encouraged to participate in these processes, especially as they help the College identify resources that pharmacists and pharmacy technicians may need to meet the new standards.
Key Themes for the New Model Standards of Practice
Giving pharmacists and pharmacy technicians a broader, more holistic framework to guide their practice
Emphasizing the importance of health system collaboration, where pharmacy professionals are integral parts of a patient’s circle of care
Reinforcing the importance of being a partner in a patient’s health decision-making
Using professional judgment in decision making