A Hearing Tribunal issued its written decisions on the merit and orders regarding the conduct of two pharmacists (complaint numbers 10815 and 10816) who failed to fulfill their professional responsibilities and failed to meet their regulatory requirement to carry professional liability insurance (insurance) while on the clinical pharmacist register.
The pharmacists’ failures were determined by a Hearing Tribunal to be acts of unprofessional conduct. In its decisions, the Hearing Tribunal affirmed the necessity for regulated members to fully comply with the declarations they provide to ACP and the requirement for pharmacists to maintain insurance while on the clinical pharmacist register and for pharmacy technicians while on the pharmacy technician register. The Hearing Tribunal went on to outline that the autonomy pharmacists and pharmacy technicians enjoy as members of self-regulating professions must be supported by our regulated members’ steadfast fulfillment of their declarations.
As a pharmacist, or a pharmacy technician, you must take personal responsibility to ensure your declarations are accurate and that you maintain the required amount and type of insurance while on the register.
In these matters, the Tribunal imposed costly penalties, even though the pharmacists’ actions were unintentional, they showed genuine remorse, there had been no previous history of unprofessional conduct on the part of the pharmacists, and there was no demonstrated patient harm. For each pharmacist, the Tribunal ordered
- a reprimand,
- a fine of $1,000, and
- a payment of $2,000 towards the costs of the investigation and hearing.
Rationale for the Tribunal’s decision is reflected in its following statements:
Pharmacists are required by law to maintain professional liability insurance (PLI) and are required to provide proof (typically in the form of a self-declaration provided to the College) that they have valid PLI in place when they apply to renew their practice permit each year. The College receives more than 5,000 renewal applications each year and relies on pharmacists to ensure their self-declarations are accurate. It is a fundamental expectation that when a pharmacist tells the College they are in possession of PLI, they are. Inaccurate declarations, regardless of whether they are deliberate, have the potential to harm the public and are taken very seriously.
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The College should be able to rely on the accuracy of a pharmacist’s self-declaration, and the public should be able to have confidence that every pharmacist who provides services to them has valid PLI in place.
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While the College takes steps to remind its members of their obligations, it is ultimately the obligation of individual pharmacists to ensure they have valid PLI at all times. Patients are protected when pharmacists fulfil this obligation.
Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians – incorporate these lessons into your approach to professional declarations and maintaining professional liability insurance:
- Read all your professional obligations described in any declarations before you sign.
- Ensure you understand your obligations related to your registration and maintaining proper insurance. Excellent information about the declarations and insurance requirements can be found in ACP’s The Link, ACP News, and on the Professional declaration audit – pharmacists and Professional declaration audit – pharmacy technicians webpages. Information about professional obligations is also customarily sent to regulated members during the renewal period.
- If you are not certain about what you are declaring, DON’T guess or assume. Clarify any uncertainty you might have BEFORE making your declaration.
- If you think you need help understanding or fulfilling a declaration, ask for and accept assistance BEFORE making your declaration.
- Maintain both an electronic and paper copy of your insurance.
- During the completion of your practice permit renewal application, review your insurance document and ensure it is valid for the upcoming permit year.
- Do not allow your personal circumstances to negatively affect your professional obligations.
- Don’t assume others, including your insurance provider or employer, will renew your insurance for you. Take personal responsibility to implement and maintain a system to ensure your insurance is always in place and active.