A pharmacist has been fired and conditions placed on his registration after he allegedly re-used syringe barrels when vaccinating patients, who were potentially exposed to blood-borne illness
The College of Pharmacists of British Columbia, Canada, has placed a notice on its website regarding a pharmacist who “has admitted to using the same syringe barrel for multiple patients while administering COVID-19 vaccinations”.
This happened between August 24 and 26, 2021, the notice says.
“This conduct occurred while he was in a leadership role as a pharmacy manager.”
The College’s Inquiry Committee decided to impose limits and conditions on the pharmacist’s practice, “effective immediately, pending an investigation into his conduct”.
The pharmacist has agreed that until the investigations are complete and he has approval to do so, he may not act in the role as a pharmacy manager or administer drugs or substances by injection and/or intranasal route; and agreed to authorise the College to revoke his Drug Administration Certification effective immediately.
These measures were “necessary to protect against further risk of harm to patients,” the College wrote.
The pharmacist has also lost his job, Canadian media report.
Fraser Health Authority, which suspended the pharmacy from the COVID-19 vaccination program, did not name the pharmacy, but CBC and CityNews report that it happened at the Ultracare Guardian Pharmacy in New Westminster.
The pharmacy’s owner is a pharmacist with 30 years’ experience who said that she had owned the pharmacy since 2007 and “worked really hard” to build up its reputation.
The pharmacist who administered the vaccines was also experienced, and the owner said she was at a loss at to how such an incident could have happened at her store.
“I don’t understand it, I am shaking my head as well… it’s shocking to me,” she said.
She said she was very concerned for her patients, and that her “heart cries out” for them.
She said that as well as terminating the pharmacist’s employment, she is now working with Fraser Health to ensure all the affected patients are alerted to the issue.
The pharmacy had been part of a provincial pharmacy pilot program examining whether stores were able to effectively use a British Columbia immunisation booking program.
The patients potentially affected – of whom there are 101 – were given Pfizer’s Comirnaty by the pharmacist on the days in question, but it is not known how many vaccinations involved a reused syringe barrel.
The Fraser Health Authority made a statement in which it said that it takes any lapse in control “very seriously”.
“We were made aware of an incident involving an infection prevention and control lapse that occurred during COVID-19 immunizations where syringes were reused at a pharmacy in one of our communities,” it said.
Patients may have been exposed to blood-borne disease as a result, though the likelihood is low, the authority said.
It told people to discuss testing with their doctor.
One patient who had been vaccinated at the pharmacy told of her dismay at receiving a letter from Fraser Health Authority in relation to the incident.
“I was just taken aback first, and you go through shock, of course, because you are just not sure what that really means and how serious is it,” said patient Corinn Jockisch.
“I got upset. I was just really upset.
“It’s just really inexcusable and I can’t understand why.”
She encouraged Canadians not to be deterred from getting vaccinated.
Patients also reacted with concern to social media posts about the story.
“I was also one of the individual who was got their vaccine at this pharmacy on the same day- some serious mental health issues since being notified,” one person wrote on Twitter.