Pharmacy pharmacists will be fired if they don’t perform sterilization of an inmate’s cervical and vaginal tissue.
That’s the directive from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that has been in effect since 2012.
According to the department, the mandate is aimed at “protecting the health and safety of patients and staff,” as well as “reinforcing adherence to a quality of care and adherence to industry best practices.”
Under the new policy, if a pharmacy performs sterilization but fails to follow a number of industry standards, the pharmacist could be fired.
The policy goes into effect July 1.
The HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) has previously found that pharmacies have been using inadequate sterilization methods, leading to high rates of infection, in some states.
The department announced the policy in a memo on April 26.
In 2016, the OIG reported that 1,921 cases of cervical cancer were linked to improperly sterilized specimens.
“It is clear that the federal government cannot effectively implement sterilization requirements without a strong commitment to patient safety and the health of all patients,” said Kathleen Kennedy, deputy commissioner of the HHS Office for Civil Rights.
A review by the OIF found that about half of the hospitals that the Office of Civil Rights visited reported that they did not use the appropriate sterilization protocols, and that hospitals were not being required to follow them.
The OIG also found that the government’s efforts to improve sterilization practices in states with the highest rates of infections and deaths were inadequate.
The federal government has directed the CDC to establish a statewide, government-wide effort to improve cervical and pelvic examiners practices.
The agency has been developing a National Quality Improvement Strategy that aims to make cervical and genital exams more accessible and accessible to all, regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, or income.
The new policy also directs the CDC and states to develop a National Standard of Care for Performing Sterilization.