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Respectful behaviour and collaboration are required for good pharmacy care

April 4, 2018

Lessons Learned

A recent hearing tribunal issued its written decision on the merit and orders about the conduct of a pharmacist who was found to have

  • demonstrated an ongoing pattern of disrespectful conduct towards other health care providers;
  • failed or refused to establish and maintain appropriate professional and collaborative relationships with other health care providers;
  • failed to acknowledge or take any responsibility for his conduct when concerns were brought to his attention and frequently responded by attacking the integrity, honesty, or competence of the persons raising the concerns; and
  • on a single occasion provided treatment to himself when he ordered a laboratory test for himself.

In doing so the hearing tribunal found that the pharmacist had not only treated other health care providers in a disrespectful manner, but that his lack of professional collaboration could have created the potential for negative patient outcomes. The hearing tribunal noted the importance of a pharmacist creating and maintaining collaborative professional relationships when they stated the following in their decision:

Collaborative practice is the foundation of providing patient care in all pharmacy practice settings and when collaboration is discouraged through disrespectful behavior, patient care is bound to be impaired. The hearing tribunal finds that collaboration and professionalism are the core issues in this matter. 

The requirement for registrants to act respectfully and collaboratively with all members of an individuals’ health team (including other pharmacists and pharmacy technicians) is foundational to providing appropriate care. Requirements for pharmacists to enter into a collaborative relationship are found in the standards of practice about managing a patient’s drug therapy, prescribing at initial access, and prescribing when managing ongoing therapy.

Although no evidence of specific patient harm was brought forward during this hearing, the tribunal found the pharmacist’s conduct to be unprofessional and warranted sanctions.

In this matter, the tribunal imposed serious penalties, even though there had been no previous history of unprofessional conduct on the part of the pharmacist. The pharmacist fully cooperated and provided a complete admission of his unprofessional conduct during the hearing process. The hearing tribunal stated, “that had [the pharmacist] not admitted to the conduct, a more serious penalty may have been appropriate.” The tribunal ordered

  • a reprimand;
  • the successful completion of an ethics course within 15 months. A failure to do so shall result in a three-month suspension;
  • a payment of $10,000 towards the costs of the investigation and hearing, and
  • an order that the pharmacist must disclose the tribunal’s written decision to any pharmacy employer or licensee for a period of 5 years.

Rationale for the tribunal’s decision, is reflected in their following statements:

Collaborative relationships are required prior to prescribing with APA (Standard 14.2(c)) and collaboration with other regulated health professionals is required in caring for a previously diagnosed condition (Standard 14.5(a)).  The hearing tribunal is concerned that the past disrespectful behavior demonstrated by [the pharmacist] would prevent this necessary collaboration from occurring. The hearing tribunal was concerned about the potential for negative patient outcomes due to [the pharmacist’s] disrespect towards other colleagues involved in his patient’s care.

Furthermore, this behavior may have impacted other health care provider’s impressions of pharmacists in general, [the pharmacist’s] behavior had the potential to diminish the tremendous respect the profession of pharmacy has in this province and the hearing tribunal sees this as a serious matter.

The public, including other health care professionals, depends on pharmacists being able to act in a professional and collaborative manner. 

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians – review your requirements and ethical duties to our profession and your patients

  1. Consistently deport yourself in a professional and respectful manner. Respect is a cornerstone to building a collaborative professional relationship with other members of patients’ health care teams.
  2. Review, understand, and comply with all requirements in the standards of practice and code of ethics that require registrants to act collaboratively. Standards 5 and 14, and ethical principle 12 are but a few examples of these requirements.
  3. Discuss with your colleagues how you and your pharmacy team can better work with other health care providers to provide optimal care for your mutual patients. Put changes into action! 
Review and discuss with your peers the Registrar’s “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” articles from the May, July, and September 2015 editions of ACP News

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