These case studies have been published by the Pharmacy Board of Australia to help practitioners understand and meet their professional and legal obligations as a registered pharmacist.
Additional case studies can be found in past newsletter issues published by the Board.
A notifer alleged that the practitioner allowed a pharmacy student to prepare and dispense a patient’s methadone dose without direct supervision and failed to check the dose before it was provided to the patient. As a result, the patient received a dose that was significantly higher than prescribed as the student had provided the dosage milligrams as millilitres.
The allegation raised issues concerning the roles and responsibilities of pharmacy staff. The Board’s Code of conduct for pharmacists outlines that good practice involves making the scope of the student’s role in patient or client care clear to the student, to patients or clients and to other members of the healthcare team. The code also states that the onus of supervision cannot be transferred and that any practitioner or student under supervision must receive adequate oversight.
The allegation also raised issues concerning proprietor responsibilities as outlined in the Board’s Guidelines for proprietor pharmacists, which includes maintaining an awareness of and responsibility for the services being provided, ensuring that the practice of pharmacy is conducted in accordance with applicable laws, standards and guidelines, that appropriate risk management procedures are in place for the operation of the pharmacy, and that business procedures, policies and protocols are routinely followed.
The practitioner demonstrated poor insight into his roles and responsibility as a supervising pharmacist. As a consequence, the Board considered it necessary to restrict the pharmacist from acting as a preceptor or supervisor of interns or students. In addition, the practitioner was required to undertake formal education and provide a reflective report demonstrating how the practitioner had incorporated the lessons learnt in this education into the practitioners practice as a pharmacist.
Lessons to be learnt
The dispensing of methadone for opioid replacement therapy (ORT) is an inherently high-risk area of pharmacy practice. The Board considered the supervision to be irresponsible, unprofessional and in the absence of safeguards (i.e. direct supervision) extremely dangerous.
Careful management of all aspects of supply of ORT is required by pharmacists in accordance with the jurisdictional legislative requirements including any policies and guidelines issued by local authorities. Pharmacists must also ensure compliance with pharmacy practice standards and codes and guidelines published by the Board.
It was alleged that a practitioner dispensed a medication to the incorrect patient. When collecting the prescription, the patient was provided with a medication belonging to another patient with the same surname but different first name by a pharmacy assistant. As a result of this error the patient took a medication that was not prescribed for them and suffered adverse effects.
The allegation raised issues about patient counselling when supplying a medicine. The Board’s Guidelines for dispensing of medicines outline that patient counselling is part of the process of dispensing medicines and provides an opportunity to elicit the necessary information from a patient, and to provide the required information to enable safe and effective use of medicines. Counselling is also the final checking process to ensure the correct medicine is supplied to the correct patient.
The practitioner's performance was considered to be unsatisfactory and the practitioner was cautioned.
The Board notes that there have been numerous similar cases like this in the last year. In this instance, the practitioner acknowledged the importance of checking that the first name and surname are correct at all times. Supply of medications to the incorrect patient can have significant health consequences. The pharmacist should make every effort to counsel, or to offer to counsel the patient whenever a medicine is supplied. Lack of counselling can be a significant contributor in failing to detect dispensing errors.
A notifier alleged that a patient was issued a repeat authorisation by a pharmacy for two additional supplies of a prescribed medicine without the authority or direction of the prescriber. For more information, please read the newsletter.
A notifier alleged that a pharmacist purchased OxyElite Pro capsules from a supplier in the United States and supplied the product to patients of the practitioner’s pharmacy. For more information, please read the newsletter.
A recent notification highlighted the importance of giving appropriate advice about medicines used during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. For more information, please read the newsletter.