A Hearing Tribunal issued their written decision on the merit and orders resulting from the conduct of a pharmacist who failed to fulfill his professional responsibilities 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 its decision, the Hearing Tribunal affirmed the necessity for registrants to fully comply with the declarations they provide to ACP and the requirement for pharmacists to maintain PLI while on the clinical pharmacist register (or, for pharmacy technicians, while on the pharmacy technician register). The Hearing Tribunal outlined that registrants’ autonomy as members of a self-regulating profession must be supported by the steadfast fulfillment of their declarations.
Regulated members must take personal responsibility to ensure declarations are accurate and will be maintained, and to maintain the required amount and type of PLI while on the register.
In this matter, 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. Despite these circumstances, the Tribunal imposed costly penalties, ordering
- a reprimand,
- a fine of $1000, and
- a payment of $7,000 towards the costs of the investigation and hearing.
Rationale for the Tribunal’s decision is reflected in the following statements:
[The pharmacist] disregarded his regulatory obligation to the College, as well as his ethical obligations to patients and the public, to ensure he maintained professional liability insurance while registered as an Alberta pharmacist and while practicing as a pharmacist. While [the pharmacist] explained why he did not have insurance and where he believed the process could be improved [the pharmacist] had a professional obligation to take active steps to ensure he had insurance. He failed to do so and chose to rely upon assumptions.
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Pharmacists are a self-regulated profession and one of the foundations of a self-regulating profession is that their members are diligent and trustworthy in their practice to ensure public safety. Breaches of statutory requirements, even if unintentional, have the potential to harm the public.
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It is a fundamental expectation that the statements declared can be counted on to be true when a pharmacist completes their professional declaration. False declarations, due to errors in judgement, lack of attention, or any other reason – deliberate or not – are serious.
Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians – incorporate these lessons into your approach to professional declarations and maintaining PLI:
- Review your professional obligations described in any declarations related to your registration, including maintaining proper PLI. Information about the declarations and PLI requirements can be found in the guidelines for audits of professional declarations section of the ACP website.
- Review and understand all aspects of all declarations you provide to ACP. If you are not certain about what you are declaring, do not guess or assume. Clarify any uncertainty you might have before making your declaration.
- If you need help understanding or fulfilling a declaration, seek assistance before making your declaration.
- Do not allow your personal circumstances to negatively affect your professional obligations.
- Do not assume others, including your PLI provider or employer, will renew your PLI for you. Take personal responsibility to implement and maintain a system to ensure your PLI is always in place and active.
- Renew your registration early to allow for enough time to ask questions of the college’s registration team should any arise during the renewal process.