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Keep track of your professional liability insurance policy effective dates

July 7, 2021
Lessons Learned: failing to fulfill your professional declarations and not carrying current professional liability insurance can become a costly mistake.

A Hearing Tribunal issued its written decision on the merit and orders regarding the conduct of a pharmacist who failed to fulfill his professional declarations and failed to meet his regulatory requirement to carry professional liability insurance (PLI) while on the clinical pharmacist register.

The pharmacist’s failures were determined by a Hearing Tribunal to be acts of unprofessional conduct. In their decision, the Hearing Tribunal affirmed the necessity for registrants to fully comply with the declarations they provide to ACP and the requirement to maintain PLI while on the clinical pharmacist register (or on the pharmacy technician register for pharmacy technicians). The Hearing Tribunal went on to outline that the autonomy our registrants enjoy as members of a self-regulating profession must be supported by our registrants’ steadfast fulfillment of their declarations.

As a pharmacist, or a pharmacy technician, if you do not have proper PLI, you must NOT be on the clinical pharmacist or pharmacy technician register, regardless if you are in active practice or not.

In this matter, the Tribunal imposed costly penalties, even though the pharmacist’s actions were unintentional, he showed genuine remorse, there had been no previous history of unprofessional conduct on the part of the pharmacist, and there was no demonstrated patient harm. The Tribunal ordered the following:

  • a reprimand,
  • a payment of $7,000 towards the costs of the investigation and hearing, and
  • a fine of $1,000.

Rationale for the Tribunals’ decisions is reflected in the following statements:

Section 40(1)(c) of the HPA and Section 13 of the Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians Profession Regulation state that regulated members must possess professional liability insurance in order to obtain a practice permit. This is necessary to protect the public when receiving pharmacy services. Regulators must ensure that there is a financial resource that is independent of the member to meet the costs of any damages that may be awarded against the member in court, as in a loss situation the member may not have the resources to pay for the legal costs of an action nor for any damages. It is in the public interest for professionals, like pharmacists, to have professional liabilities insurance.

… … …

Professional liability insurance is an important aspect of the protection of the public because it means that the public is assured that the actions of a pharmacist are covered by insurance if the client suffers a loss due to errors in the pharmacist’s work. It is also not practical for members of the public to verify that individuals with whom they interact in a pharmacy have liability insurance. Members of the public are entitled to assume that their pharmacist has professional liability insurance coverage.

… … …

Breaches of these requirements, even if unintentional, have the potential to harm the public, as well as the reputation of pharmacy both within the profession as well as within society as a whole. This is particularly true in light of the College’s efforts to inform members of their obligation to maintain insurance and to make members aware of the consequences of failing to maintain insurance.

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians – incorporate these lessons into your approach to professional declarations and maintaining PLI:

  1. Review your professional obligations to fulfill your declarations and maintain proper PLI. Excellent information about the declarations and PLI requirements can be found in ACP’s The Link, ACP News, on the Guidelines for audits of professional declarations section of the ACP website, and are customarily sent to registrants during the renewal period.
  2. Review and understand all aspects of all declarations you provide ACP. If you are not certain about what you are declaring, DON’T guess or assume. Clarify any uncertainty you might have BEFORE you provide a declaration.
  3. If you think you need help understanding or fulfilling a declaration, ask for and accept assistance.
  4. Do not allow your personal circumstances to negatively affect your professional obligations.
  5. Don’t assume others, including your PLI provider, will renew your PLI for you. Take personal responsibility to implement and maintain a system to ensure your PLI is properly renewed.