How Pharmacy Technicians Can Help Prevent Child Abuse

April 22, 2015

April is National Child Abuse Awareness Month. Since pharmacy technicians in retail settings are the first person a patient interacts with, they have several opportunities to make a positive difference. As Mary E. Jones, MD, a child advocacy physician at Loyola University Health System states, “As health care providers, we have a responsibility to improve our knowledge, our skill, and our ability to recognize potential abuse and neglect in children.” Read the article here.

If you notice the parent or adult in charge of the child seems angry or frustrated, speaks sharply to the child, or exhibits physical behavior such as hitting the child or yanking on their arm, don’t be afraid to speak up. You don’t have to be confrontational; saying “Is there anything I can do to help?” in a sympathetic tone of voice can be a calming influence. This will give the parent time to calm down and let them know their behavior is being observed.


When entering the prescription into the pharmacy computer, take notice of the date the medication was prescribed.  If a parent isn’t refilling their child’s medication promptly, it may be cause for concern. Bring it to the pharmacist’s attention, as some maintenance medications can cause problems if too many doses are skipped.

Finally, pay particular attention to the parent who asks for help with wound care, particularly burns. It’s very normal for children to have cuts, scrapes, and bruises on knees and elbows, just from running around on the playground. However, a parent who is trying to treat a wound in an unusual location may be trying to avoid an emergency room visit. Again, you don’t have to be confrontational; simply asking “Oh dear, how did this happen?” in a concerned voice may help the parent open up, or the child may respond themselves. If the explanation doesn’t make sense or you have any cause for concern, immediately refer them to the pharmacist, who may suggest the wound should not be treated at home.