Concealing the evidence

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A locum pharmacist has been found guilty of professional misconduct for misappropriating morphine and codeine, and making false records to conceal the thefts

A pharmacist working at a NSW hospital has been found to have misappropriated Codapane Forte and morphine from her workplace during September 2014.

It was discovered that the locum pharmacist, who was on a 10-week contract at the hospital, had taken two boxes of Codapane Forte.

The two boxes had been recorded on the pharmacy register as having been distributed to the medical ward, but there was no corresponding entry in the medical ward register.

The pharmacist claimed that a discrepancy between the two registers was due to her being “overworked and flustered”, and not conducting a proper drug count on the day the boxes disappeared.

She denied misappropriating drugs or falsifying hospital records for the purpose of concealing the misappropriation.

However the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal found she had failed to give a “plausible explanation” for her actions.

It came to the “inescapable conclusion” that the person who made the entry in the pharmacy register did so “to create the false impression that two boxes of Codapane Forte were distributed to the medical ward”.

In a separate instance, the pharmacist was found to have misappropriated two bottles of morphine from the hospital.

The registered nurse who had handed the morphine over to the pharmacist completed an incident report, explaining the pharmacist had told her she would take the morphine home and “return it tomorrow”.

However the pharmacist separately claimed that she had actually destroyed the morphine by pouring it down the sink.

After looking at CCTV footage and hearing witness statements, the tribunal concluded that the pharmacist had not destroyed the morphine at the pharmacy, but had taken it home.

Altogether they found that her conduct amounted to “unsatisfactory professional conduct” and “professional misconduct”.

Following allegations of misconduct in 2014, the pharmacist had resigned from the hospital and now resides in WA, stating she has no plans to return to NSW.

An upcoming hearing will see the tribunal decide on protective orders.

It will determine whether the respondent is a suitable person to hold registration as a pharmacist.

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