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Registrants must comply with a request of an ACP Field Officer

January 8, 2019
Lessons Learned: From a recent Hearing Tribunal decision about the conduct of a pharmacist.

A recent Hearing Tribunal issued its written decision on the merit and orders regarding the conduct of a pharmacist who failed to comply with his duty as a pharmacist and a licensee to provide information as requested by a field officer of the Alberta College of Pharmacy.

In failing to comply with the field officer’s request during a visit to the pharmacist’s pharmacy, the Hearing Tribunal determined the pharmacist had committed both unprofessional conduct under the Health Professions Act (HPA) and misconduct under the Pharmacy and Drug Act (PDA). In their decision the Hearing Tribunal affirmed the necessity for pharmacy professionals to fully comply with a request of a field officer.

As a pharmacy professional, if you are not willing to comply with a request of a field officer, ACP must consider whether you can be regulated, and thus whether you should be in the profession.

In this matter, the Tribunal imposed significant penalties, even though the failure to comply occurred only once and involved only a single request for information, the pharmacist showed remorse and admitted to his conduct, and there was no demonstrated patient harm. The Tribunal ordered

  • a reprimand,
  • a suspension of the pharmacist’s practice permit for a period of two months, with one month to be served and the remaining one month of suspension being held in abeyance for a period of two years pending the pharmacist’s cooperation with inspectors or investigators during that period, and
  • requirement to pay the full costs of the investigation and hearing to a maximum of $10,000.

Rationale for the Tribunal’s decision, is reflected in its following statement:

It is important and absolutely essential for self-regulation that there be cooperation and compliance with  field officers. If field officers cannot get that compliance, they cannot do their job and cannot assure the public of its safety.

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians – incorporate these lessons into your approach to being regulated as a pharmacy professional:

  1. Review your professional obligations in complying with requests of ACP and being regulated. Principles 10(1, 2) and 12(6) of the Code of Ethics may provide you with valuable guidance in this respect.
  2. Understand that a failure or refusal to comply with a request of a field officer may be considered unprofessional conduct. Also, unprofessional conduct may also arise from a failure or refusal to comply with the orders of a Hearing Tribunal, the continuing competence program, a direction of the registrar, a ratified settlement, a direction to assess capacity, or a notice to attend a hearing. See section 1(1)(pp) of the HPA.
  3. Understand that a failure to or refusal to cooperate with a practice visit, inspector, or investigator may be considered unprofessional conduct or misconduct. See section 1(1)(pp) of the HPA and sections 1(1)(p) and 21(8) of the PDA.

Comply and cooperate with requests of a field officer. If you are not certain about your requirements in complying with a request, DON’T guess or assume. During the visit of a field officer, clarify any uncertainty you might have with the field officer, ACP or legal counsel.