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Review your pharmacy security and safety protocols

February 19, 2020
Edmonton police investigating a spike in pharmacy robberies.

Between December 16, 2019, and January 16, 2020, Edmonton Police Service (EPS) responded to five pharmacy robberies. The police believe the same four men were involved in all cases and, in three of the incidents, it was reported that a male suspect had a gun. EPS released pictures of the suspects in an effort to identify them.

ACP takes the safety and security of patients, pharmacy teams, and the pharmacy seriously.

This is a good opportunity to review standards 4.1 (b), 5.11, and 5.12 in the Standards of Practice for the Operation of Licensed Pharmacies.

Standard 4.1 – The licensee must ensure that the prescription department

  1. is equipped with a security system that will provide suitable protection against theft, diversion and tampering with drugs and health care products, and aids and devices.

Standard 5.11 – A licensee must ensure that all drugs in a licensed pharmacy are secured against theft, loss, or diversion.

Standard 5.12 – A licensee must ensure adequate procedures are in place to identify theft, loss or diversion of narcotic and controlled drugs, including but not limited to

  1. maintaining a perpetual inventory of each narcotic and controlled drug in stock,
  2. routinely auditing perpetual inventories to verify accuracy,
  3. investigating any discrepancies identified,
  4. evaluating whether procedure changes or preventative measures are required to prevent future discrepancies, and
  5. reporting any loss or theft of narcotic or controlled drugs to Health Canada within 10 days of discovery.

These standards must be adhered to.

In addition, to help you develop robbery and break-in prevention strategies, ACP has published a recently updated burglary prevention tip sheet. This document provides recommendations that pharmacy licensees and proprietors can implement to enhance the safety of their pharmacy. The tips outline

  • how to protect the premises,
  • how to protect patients and staff,
  • what to do if you discover a burglary, and
  • what to do if you are being robbed.

Licensees should ensure that proper policies and procedures are in place to deter, prevent, detect, and respond to robberies. Pharmacy team members should also be  trained to be aware of their environment and know what to do if a robbery or break-in occurs. Support should be made available to pharmacy team members after a robbery occurs

ACP encourages pharmacies to have physical barriers, including locking gates, that prevent unauthorized access to the dispensary both during and after operating hours. The college also encourages pharmacies to install an alarm system and a video monitoring system to record activities in and around the dispensary.

*NOTE: Since this article was published, ACP has developed a complete webpage regarding robberies and burglaries.