O-2: Will I lose my license for that? A closer look at Canadian disciplinary hearings and what it means for pharmacists’ expanded scope
Ms. Ai-Leng Foong
University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy
Topic: Health Policy, Ethics
Concerns about liability from clinical errors have been cited as a barrier preventing greater adoption of practice change. Our objective was to determine the most common actions or omissions that result in disciplinary action for pharmacists and the restrictive actions imposed.
Canadian disciplinary reports were reviewed. Cases were coded as charges of professional misconduct, unskilled practice, or dishonest business practices.
There were 558 disciplinary cases from ten provinces that occurred between January 2010 and July 2017. Professional misconduct charges commonly involved stealing/diverting or inappropriately dispensing narcotic drugs, pharmacy supervision/premises charges, and refusing to co-operate with the college. Charges of unskilled practice included dispensing the wrong drug, failing to assess the appropriateness of a drug order, providing the wrong dose, and failing to counsel. Fraudulent billing practices and accepting rebates from generic drug companies were the most common dishonest business practices. Professional misconduct, unskilled practice, and dishonest business practice charges were involved in 342 (61%), 169 (30%), and 191 (34%) cases, respectively. Most cases occurred in community pharmacies and were not caused by an isolated clinical error. Fines were the most common penalty, followed by temporary license suspensions, professional development, and reprimands. License revocations were the least common (4%), often involving professional misconduct.
This review suggests that disciplinary action against a pharmacist for an isolated, unintentional clinical error is uncommon, and that losing a license is rare. Fear of disciplinary action should not be a barrier to practice change or the provision of expanded patient care services.