Do Pharmacy Technicians Need Professional Liability Insurance?
by Robin Luke, CPhT
A pharmacy is a dangerous place. An over-worked, over-stressed, top speed type of workplace where, due to the duties of the staff (sometimes not enough) and the volume of prescriptions processed, the risk of errors can be heightened. Nobody wants to make a mistake, but as humans, mistakes happen. Think about this: what if you provide COVID-19 testing or vaccinations, or you consistently process prescriptions, especially in a high-volume environment?
When people decide to sue for errors made by the pharmacy, even those that are accidental, they often sue the company. But also, is the option to sue individuals. Liability insurance for pharmacy technicians is designed to protect your assets or cover you expenses in the event of a medical malpractice lawsuit or liability claim.
As pharmacy technicians see their roles in healthcare expand, the risk of being beamed in a malpractice suit continues to climb. So ask yourself, what can I risk losing? A house, a car, money, or damage to my career? In addition, personal, professional liability insurance could assure that the affected party has a better chance of full coverage for any medical expenses and other damages incurred from your error with no out-of-pocket costs from you. Many states have capped jury awards, but that cap can still be hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Can pharmacy technicians be held liable?
Ask many pharmacy technicians if they could be sued for a pharmacy mistake they made. Most would quickly answer that they are ultimately responsible for nearly any work we perform because we work under a licensed pharmacist. While technically this is correct, in addition to seeing pharmacists held accountable for pharmacy technicians, more and more pharmacy technicians are being sued individually and have been for a while, such as in these examples: Walgreens Tech Sued as well as a pharmacist and pharmacy technician found liable for multimillion-dollar judgment but not the hospital where they work.
An interesting, old CE offering that highlights six varied cases involving pharmacy technicians led to legal trouble.
In a recent claim study, the two most common allegations against pharmacy were wrong drug and wrong dose. As pharmacy technicians being the primary prescription processors, the chance of one being involved in this type of error is huge!
Does employer insurance cover pharmacy technicians?
Retail pharmacies generally hold several insurance policies, such as general liability, worker’s compensation, and more. However, when the policy is in an employer's name, it still may not provide all the coverage you need. Company insurance typically represents the company's best interests, which could leave you with less protection than you think. Also, workplace lawsuits could take place with more parties than just you and the patient. It could be challenging to find out precisely what is covered through your employer, what kind of representation you could expect, or the exceptions until it is too late. Your employer most likely has a policy covering you while working but may not protest you entirely from a personal claim.
What options are there for professional liability insurance?
A professional liability insurance policy helps with common claims like negligence, misrepresentation, and inaccurate advice. It will also help cover violations of good faith and fair dealing. To find the right policy for you, look at the practice area you work in, the service you provide and are involved in, the specific risks involved with your practice.
One such company that offers coverage to pharmacy technicians is CM & F. This company provides coverage for HIPAA, sexual assault, telemedicine, and others.
Pharmacist Mutual is another company that offers an extensive list of coverage to pharmacy technicians such as drug administrations, COVID-19 activities, tech-check-tech duties, and others.
The choice to purchase your professional liability insurance is a personal one. But depending on your situation, it could be a very wise one as well. In addition to the above-mentioned protected areas, policies also cover some or all of the cost in defending lawsuits related to such claims, which could break the bank. A liability policy aims to ensure that you are protected at work if a claim is filed against you. Only you can decide if it is the right choice for you.