Professional Regulation and Criminal Liability
July 16, 2015
Professional Regulation and Criminal Liability: Pharmacists
A profession is “an occupation based on the mastery of a complex body of knowledge and skills. It is a vocation in which the practice of an art is used in the services of others” (Schmitz & Martin, 2008, p. 1). Belonging to a certain profession requires one to agree to demonstrate integrity, selflessness, competency as well as morality. This becomes the foundation on which the medical profession gets autonomy of practice from the society and a chance to experience self-regulation. Pharmacy is one of the medical professions whose practitioners help people to utilize medications to the best. It is notable that since professionals own specialized knowledge which the client does not have, the possibility of the professional exploiting the client exists. It is however important to note that such exploitation leads to very severe consequences since it has violated the guiding regulations for pharmacists. While executing the duties of a pharmacist, it is possible to make mistakes that have serious consequences. There are a number of ways in which professional misconduct among pharmacists can be handled. The Board of Pharmacy may take action against the pharmacists where a hearing is made before any disciplinary action is taken. The violation of regulations may also be presented before a civil court or before a criminal court. In case of a compliant being presented before a Board of Pharmacy, the complaint is usually presented by the customer before the Board prompting the Board of Pharmacy to launch investigations. The findings of the investigation are used to determine the disciplinary action to be taken, if any. Complaints that are handled by the Board of Pharmacy involve violation of the regulations governing the board and may not necessarily be linked to a patient. Civil lawsuit on the other hand primarily involves professional negligence as reported by a patient or a consumer (Darvey, 2008). Cases of medical malpractice are usually presented in form of lawsuits. A client may for instance cite injury as emanating from a pharmacist’s incorrect filling of prescription and this becomes professional negligence which may be used against the pharmacists in a civil proceeding. The dispute is resolved before a jury and appropriate action is taken depending on the evidence presented. Criminal violations by pharmacists are usually considered as intentional misconduct and these kinds of violations are usually brought forward by an attorney. A criminal court is responsible for handling such a case. It is notable that criminal violations in the pharmacy profession are rare but they exist (Darvey, 2008). In the United States, a client may file a case against a pharmacist and in this case he or she must follow an adversarial process. The court procedure differs to some extend depending on whether the case is presented in a federal or a state court or whether it is a civil or criminal action. The court where the case is to be presented should have jurisdiction over the plaintiff and the defendant. Where both subjects are from the same state, the case can be filed in a state court otherwise federal court handles the case. It is important to note that the plaintiff must be the individual who was harmed by the pharmacist’s malpractice otherwise the plaintiff would be denied a standing. In addition, it is important to note that the plaintiff has to file the lawsuit within a specified period of time (usually two years after injury in most states) otherwise the lawsuit would become ineffective (Abood, 2010). Complaints against pharmaceuticals are supposed to be handled depending on whether it is a matter of competence, impairment or disciplinary. These approaches are helpful in safeguarding the public from harm likely to be inflicted by pharmacists. This is done by...
References: Abood, R. (2005). Pharmacy practice and the law (4th ed.). Sudbury, Mass: Jones and Bartlett.
Darvey, D. (2008). Legal Handbook for Pharmacy Technicians (1st ed.). Bethesda, Maryland:
American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.
Schmitz, P., & Martin, K. (2008). Internal medicine just the facts (1st ed.). New York, New
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