Community Pharmacy Response to Infection Control during COVID-19. A Cross-Sectional Survey. release_ozefe2hnufcmzormfletst76ni

by Zachary Sum, Charmane Ow

Released as a post by MDPI AG.



Background: Australia received its first case of coronavirus was on 25 January 2020. Since then the demands of COVID-19 has presented unparalleled levels of strain on the public healthcare systems in the country. In this time of crisis, pharmacists and community pharmacy staffs have modified work strategies according to the rapidly changing environment. With a delayed dissemination of resources and guidelines, pharmacist and pharmacies are practicing innovative infection control methods across Australia to protect their staff, patients and the community. This article seeks to explore the current activities undertaken by pharmacists in various community pharmacy settings across Australia in relation to the safety of the workplace environments for staff and patients. Information collected can help inform future decisions in pandemic preparation for pharmacies in response to similar health crisis now and in the future. Methods: An online cross-sectional survey study was conducted in Australia during the COVID-19 outbreak from 1 to 30 April 2020. The online questionnaire addressed community pharmacist’s awareness and response to infection and sanitation control. Results: A total of 137 pharmacists took part in the survey, with almost half (45.26%) belonging to the age group of 25 to 34 years. Community pharmacy formed the bulk (89.05%) of the respondent’s primary place of practice. There was a good uptake of safety measures by pharmacists and their pharmacies to protect staff and patients. However the task of reassigning high health risk staff was not heavily practiced (34.31%). Regular cleaning took place in the pharmacy, but the use of gloves while cleaning was not practiced in less than half of respondents (48.18%). In addition, only 46.72% of respondents reported observing script baskets being cleaned and disinfected. One-third of pharmacists were aware of the two-step cleaning and disinfecting process, but only 18.98% of pharmacists reported observing or performing this sanitation procedure. More than half of surveyed pharmacists reported having difficulty keeping up with infection control changes and pharmacy practice guidelines during the pandemic. Conclusion: This study demonstrates that the majority of pharmacists are not fully aware of the infection control measures needed in a community pharmacy setting. The influx of coronavirus updates has made it difficult for pharmacists to implement accurate procedures on some aspects of workplace hygiene, which may have led to some gaps in infection control measures. Pharmacists must aim to uphold their public health ambassador role and aim to keep up-to-date with professional guidance to provide the necessary infection control measures to ensure staff, patient and public health safety.
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