The Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal has recently cancelled a pharmacist’s registration after he forged a certified repeat prescription form to cover a mistake that he made.

The pharmacist mistakenly approved a dispense form for the wrong medication to a customer. The customer was hospitalised soon after, which led the pharmacist to realise his mistake.

After realising the mistake the pharmacist lied and said that he could not find the original certified form. He then found and destroyed the form, and wrote out a new form putting another pharmacist’s initials on it.

The new form stated that another pharmacist had checked and approved the wrong medication. The pharmacist tried to convince the other pharmacist that they were responsible for the mistake. He then filled out an Incident Notification Form and sent it to the Pharmacy Defence Association stating that the other pharmacist was responsible for the mistake.

The Tribunal had to determine whether the pharmacist’s conduct amounted to professional misconduct that warranted disciplinary action.

The Tribunal accepted that approving an incorrect medication which was then distributed to a customer amounted to negligence. Negligence is defined as a departure from the professional standards expected of a pharmacist.

However, the Tribunal decided that by itself, the pharmacist’s mistake did not amount to professional misconduct. Although significant, errors such as mistaken prescriptions do occur and this mistake was not serious enough on its own to constitute professional misconduct.

The Tribunal also considered that the pharmacist had acted dishonestly when he lied about his mistake and then blamed a co-worker for the dispense form. The Tribunal described the pharmacist’s behaviour as unethical, and could be described as despicable, and ultimately decided that it was likely to lower the reputation of the pharmacy profession.

The Tribunal decided that the pharmacist’s response to his mistake amounted to professional misconduct. Together, the mistake and the dishonesty justified disciplinary action being taken against the pharmacist.

The Tribunal censured the pharmacist and cancelled his registration. He was ordered to pay a fine of $5,000 as well as $10,500 in costs.

It is important to be aware of your obligations as a medical professional. If you are confused about your professional obligations, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.


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Alan Knowsley and Hunter Flanagan-Connors