Failure to maintain standards

A slew of pharmacy owners has been cautioned, including over poor S8 records, open medicines baskets, and insufficient pharmacist staff to meet dispensing workload

In March 2019 there were five panel hearings into allegations that licensees had failed to meet their responsibilities to comply with the Act or good pharmacy practice at registered premises, reports David McConville, Chair of the Victorian Pharmacy Authority (VPA).

Pharmacy owners in Victoria were cautioned last month after inspectors discovered there was insufficient pharmacist staff to meet the expected dispensing workload.

The VPA also found the number of dispensing stations did not meet the requirements of the guidelines, and there were discrepancies in Schedule 8 poisons records.

While the licensees were cautioned, the Panel acknowledged the difficulties owners face recruiting pharmacists in regional areas.

In a separate case, the directors of the licensed company failed to maintain accurate records of Schedule 8 poisons and there were numerous areas of non-compliance with the Policy for maintenance pharmacotherapy for opioid dependence, the VPA found.

Dispensed medicines were transferred from the dispensary to the cash-and-wrap counter in open baskets in breach of the Act, which requires arrangements to ensure clients of the pharmacy cannot identify other clients’ medicines.

Current editions of mandatory references were not accessible at the pharmacy.

Dose administration aid (DAA) filling records were not maintained in accordance with Pharmacy Board of Australia guidelines and sedation warning labels were not applied to DAAs containing substances listed in Appendix K of the SUSMP.

In this case, the licensee was cautioned.

Other Victorian pharmacy owners were cautioned for having a “grossly deficient” mandatory reference library.

“Several references were entirely absent and most of the remaining ones were not current,” said the VPA.

There was a range of other deficiencies, including that the key to the Schedule 8 poisons safe was not stored securely overnight and there was no temperature data logger in the drug refrigerator.

There were also deficiencies in dispensary barcode scanning and records for dose administration aids, the authority found.

A fourth case in Victoria involved discrepancies in Schedule 8 poisons records.

The licensee had failed to make records in the form required by the regulations by omitting complete transaction dates, patient addresses, prescriber names and pharmacist signatures.

Dispensary barcode scanning was found to be “inadequate”, mandatory references were not current and refrigerator temperature monitoring was not carried out in accordance with VPA guidelines.

Sedation warning labels were not applied to DAAs containing substances listed in Appendix K of the SUSMP. The dispensary sink was not accessible.

In this case the licensee was reprimanded and a condition imposed on the licence requiring quarterly self-audits to be undertaken and submitted to the Authority.

The Panel required evidence of receipt of current references and submission of a procedure for managing Schedule 8 poisons in the pharmacy—the Authority subsequently resolved to re-inspect the pharmacy at the licensee’s cost.

In a fifth case, the VPA found discrepancies in Schedule 8 poisons.

Dispensary barcode scanning required improvement and the mandatory reference library was not up to date.

The licensees were cautioned, with the Panel requiring submission of a procedure for the management of Schedule 8 poisons in the pharmacy, along with evidence that the reference library had been updated.

During the first three months of 2019, the VPA conducted 19 investigations into pharmacies across the state.

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