Retail Pharmacists Experience Violence, Finds NIOSH--February 2009

February 26, 2009
Eileen Koutnik-Fotopoulos

NIOSH, a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is gathering data on violent crimes against pharmacists.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) released an update to its 2002 report entitled Violence: Occupational Hazards in Hospitals. The new report focuses on a different health care professional—the retail pharmacist.

“We are finding that violence against pharmacists differs from violence experienced by other health care workers. Increasingly, pharmacists face violence from robberies at their workplace. Across the United States, reports of pharmacy robberies specifically related to the theft of Oxycontin and Vicodin have been reported. These prescription pain killers may be used for the robber’s own addiction or sold on the street for a significant amount of money,” NIOSH posted on its b February 17 blog.

NIOSH is faced with the challenge of not being able to grasp the magnitude of the problem because a comprehensive nationwide database of pharmacy robberies does not exist. To remedy the problem, NIOSH is partnering with the Statistical Analysis Center to gather information from police departments to provide NIOSH with the data necessary for a study of homicides, robberies, and assaults of health care workers, particularly pharmacists. NIOSH successfully partnered with several Statistical Analysis Centers in the late 1990s for a data collection effort related to workplace violence and robberies in convenience stores.

The objective of the current effort is to determine the frequencies and rates of homicides and injuries associated with robberies and assaults occurring in health care pharmaceutical work environments and to assess the risk factors and circumstances surrounding these violent events. These data will assist NIOSH in developing prevention recommendations to protect pharmacies and other health care workers.

“As we continue our research, we are interested in learning what prevention strategies pharmacists have found useful in dealing with violence in the workplace,” NIOSH stated.

The National Community Pharmacists Association is a partner in RxPATROL, a joint effort between the pharmaceutical industry, pharmacy community, and law enforcement to track pharmacy crime information. Last spring, the group distributed a “Protect Your Pharmacy Now” toolkit with resources to help improve pharmacy security.

Pharmacy organizations are doing their part to help combat pharmacy crime.

For other articles in this issue, see:

Pharmacy-Based Programs a Win for Patients

WV Pharmacists Want Malpractice Suit Protection

Look in the Box: Patients Benefit from Rx Efficacy Data