A pharmacist had “glazed eyes” and “incoherent speech” and stumbled into objects when he showed up to work one day in 2016
The Pharmacy Board has advised that a Western Australian pharmacist with Polysubstance Use Disorder has been disqualified from reapplying for registration for six months after he admitted to professional misconduct.
At a WA State Administrative Tribunal hearing, it was alleged that the pharmacist, who is currently unregistered and who was working at the time as a locum at a number of different pharmacies, made four dispensing errors on three dates in January and May 2016.
In late January of that year, he checked and supplied Lipitor tablets labelled as 40mg, instead of the correct strength of 80mg; the patient later returned the tablets and the correct label was provided, the Tribunal heard.
On a date in early May, the pharmacist incorrectly dispensed duloxetine 30mg instead of duloxetine 60mg, as well as sodium valproate 200mg instead of sodium valproate 500mg.
These medicines were also subsequently returned by the patient and the correct doses dispensed.
On another date in May, the pharmacist dispensed metformin 1g to a customer instead of metformin XR1g.
This error occurred when the pharmacist did not check – or did not adequately check – tablets placed in a Webster pack by a pharmacy student.
The student then advised another pharmacist of the error and the correct medication was dispensed.
On 30 September 2016, the proprietor of a Chemmart where the pharmacist worked notified AHPRA that the pharmacist had gone to the pharmacy at about 2pm on the 29th of that month.
He “appeared intoxicated with glazed eyes, mumbling and incoherent speech and impaired movement,” the Tribunal heard.
On 30 September, the proprietor of a discount pharmacy where the man worked also made a notification to AHPRA, saying that on the 29th, the pharmacist had shown up to work at 4pm to begin his rostered shift there.
The proprietor told AHPRA that the pharmacist was “disorientated, stumbling and bumping into things, confused and unable to carry out his work duties”.
This proprietor had told the pharmacist to leave, saying he could not work in this condition, but the pharmacist became “agitated and aggressive” and security needed to be called.
On 18 October 2016, AHPRA’s Immediate Action Committee imposed conditions on the man’s licence stipulating that he not practise as a pharmacist until he had undergone a health assessment and been deemed fit to practice.
But on 20 and 23 October 2016, the pharmacist then went to work at a third pharmacy, an Amcal, despite being aware that he had been barred from practising.
The Amcal’s proprietor then contacted AHPRA to advise that the man had practised as a pharmacist on these two dates after the conditions were imposed on his licence.
In late October, the pharmacist underwent a hair and drug screen, which tested positive for several drugs including cannabis, methamphetamine, MDMA, various opioids, promethazine and zolpidem.
During a subsequent health assessment with a psychiatrist he admitted he had been taking illicit drugs including cannabis, opioids and benzodiazepines for around 18 months.
This psychiatrist said the pharmacist suffered from Polysubstance Use Disorder, which had a negative impact on his capacity to practice pharmacy.
AHPRA then requested a supplementary health assessment and another hair and drug screening – but the pharmacist rang AHPRA to ask if these could be rescheduled to a few months later.
When the case manager asked why, the pharmacist said it was because he would not pass the pathology testing due to his having “smoked a little bit of bud recently”.
The pharmacist declined AHPRA’s request for the supplementary health assessment.
He failed to renew his registration from 2 January 2018.
At the hearing the pharmacist admitted he had behaved in a way which constituted professional misconduct.
The Tribunal reprimanded him and disqualified him from re-applying for registration for six months.
The Tribunal also ordered that, had the pharmacist been registered at the date of its orders, the Tribunal would have cancelled his registration.
He was ordered to pay $2,500 towards the Board’s costs of the proceedings.
The Tribunal also determined that the pharmacist has an impairment.