Overworked, understaffed: Pharmacists say industry in crisis puts patient safety at risk

“There’s so much stress,” Jerominski said. “You’re not only running to the drive-thru but to the front, to the vaccination station to give a vaccination, then to the phone. … It’s almost impossible for any human to keep that momentum day in and out.”

Jerominski is one of an estimated 155,000 pharmacists working at chain drugstores who, over the past decade, have found themselves pushed to do more with less. They’re working faster, filling more orders and juggling a wider range of tasks with fewer staff members at a pace that many say is unsustainable and jeopardizes patient safety. Now Covid-19 vaccinations are raising new concerns about what will happen if they aren’t given enough additional support for yet another responsibility.

NBC News spoke to 31 retail pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in 15 states. From 12-hour shifts so busy they don’t have time to go to the bathroom or eat to crying in their cars every day after work or lying awake at night worrying about mistakes they might have made while rushing, they described an industry of health care professionals at the breaking point.

NBC Overworked, understaffed: Pharmacists say industry in crisis puts patient safety at risk