A breach of confidentiality


codeine medicines

A new case study published by the Pharmacy Board looked at a pack of medicine which showed two patients’ details

In its recent newsletter, the Board advised that it had published new case studies, one of which covered privacy and dispensing procedures.

“A notifier alleged that a pharmacist failed to ensure patient privacy by affixing the pharmacy dispensing label to the primary container over the top of another label showing another patient’s details,” the Board observed.

“The second label was easy to remove, and as a result the first patient’s details were accessible, resulting in a breach of confidentiality.”

This raised issues around patient privacy, the Board noted, as outlined in its Code of Conduct for Pharmacists and Guidelines for Dispensing of Medicines.

These require the pharmacist to ensure the privacy of patients is assured, and that the information about a person obtained through the course of professional practice is only disclosed with the patient’s permission.

“The initial dispensing label had not been removed from the medication when it had been labelled in error for an earlier patient,” the Board wrote.

“Because the medication had not left the pharmacy it was able to be reused.

“However, the initial dispensing label with the patient’s details should have been removed before dispensing the medicine to the next patient.”

The Board went on to form a reasonable belief that the pharmacist’s conduct in supply the medicine with the double label was unsatisfactory, and the pharmacist was cautioned.

“Pharmacists must ensure that all pharmacy services are provided in a manner that respects and upholds a patient’s privacy requirements in accordance with the Board’s codes and guidelines, as well as relevant privacy laws applicable to health providers,” the Board said.

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