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halachic considerations for hospital pharmacist


Rabbi David Sperling

Adar II 1, 5776
b"h appreciating the vast halachic sources taking into account "physicians’ " tasks, wearing their id tags and necessities out of eruv, driving on shabbat, etc. ,i would like to know whether there are some authorities dealing with the same for pharmacist, esp. hospital pharmacist. if not, please, explain why. as one of hosp. pharm., i encounter situations and emergencies which are identical, if not in rare cases even more urgent than that of physicians (who are, as usual, given places to sleep over night, kosher meal, etc.). the hospital pharmacists are - according to my humble knowledge - a kind of medical professionals rather neglected. todot and brachot for your answer.
Shalom, Thank you for your question. You are certainly correct that a hospital pharmacist works in a position that certainly could be defined as one that life and death depend on. In today's hospital situation many times life giving drugs and treatments can only be obtained through the services of a trained pharmacist. As such their services are needed on Shabbat and holidays. In this regard there is no difference between them and the doctor. However, not every task a pharmacist does is in fact in the category of life dependant services – as too not everything a doctor does is needed for life or death treatment. Because of this it would be wrong of me to try and give an across the board answer allowing Shabbat desecration by a pharmacist. In general though, it is certainly true that whoever works in a job (especially in a hospital) which deals with life and death situations, should approach a Rabbi to clarify their obligations to their profession over the Shabbat. What you have seen in Rabbinic literature that addresses doctors does not intend to be limited to only those who carry the technical title "doctor" – but rather it is a generic label for all those involved in the medical profession whose services are vital for Shabbat – including for example an anesthetist, nurse, a medical machinery technician, and of course, a pharmacist. May you merit to continue to bring health and healing to all, and bring a sanctification of Hahsem through your concern and keeping of His Torah. Blessings.
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