Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan


RQHR Hospital Pharmacists Severely Under-Staffed

Regina (July 29, 2013) – The severe under-staffing of hospital pharmacists in the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region means patients in a number of Regina hospital wards, including the Cardiac Care Unit and the Children’s Ward at the Regina General Hospital, are receiving minimal assistance with critical drug therapy, Health Sciences President Karen Wasylenko said.

“This severe under-staffing means that unless you are a patient admitted to the right ward at the right time, a hospital pharmacist may never be directly involved with your care. How can the health region argue they are putting patients and their families first?” Wasylenko asked.

“The Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region has allowed the under-staffing problem to grow by refusing to replace hospital pharmacists who are on maternity leave, educational leave or temporary work assignments elsewhere in the Region. They have also been slow to replace retiring hospital pharmacists, and those who choose to leave the Region due to the stressful working conditions. As a result, this summer, the number of hospital pharmacists actually on the job is more than 15% below the approved staffing level,” Wasylenko noted.

“This means hospital pharmacists, who used to be responsible for serving patients in an average of two hospital wards per shift are now responsible for four to six wards at a time. Everyone knows that hospital beds in Regina are always near capacity, so the need and workload remain constant, while the staffing levels are down more than 15%. No matter how hard the remaining hospital pharmacists are working to help their patients, service will suffer,” Wasylenko said.

“A number of hospital wards, including the Cardiac Care Unit, Children’s Ward and Emergency at the General, as well as the Post-Operative Orthopaedic and Gastrointestinal Surgery area at the Pasqua, are now designated “core service areas”, by health region managers, which means they receive only minimal services from hospital pharmacists. Pharmacists are instructed to enter medication orders for patients, without being able to monitor how that patient is reacting to the drug therapy or being able to provide the patient with information and counselling about their medications,” Wasylenko explained.

“Is it right that a patient who has suffered a heart attack cannot even see a pharmacist before he or she is discharged from hospital, to understand the five new medications they have been put on? Is it safe that a patient just admitted to hospital with eight or more medications, can receive the wrong drug for their longstanding illness, because their home medications could not be reconciled correctly? These or similar situations constitute serious threats to patients. We urge the health region to step up its recruitment of hospital pharmacists in order to get a handle on the severe under-staffing now facing both pharmacists and their patients this summer,” Wasylenko concluded.

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Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan

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