When a patient files a complaint against a pharmacist, the consequences can be quite devastating. Typically, filed complaints fall under two categories: pharmacist misconduct and prescription errors. The complaint process itself can last a few months or even longer depending on the severity of the complaint and investigation. The complaint process is highly stressful and taxing for the pharmacist, and, if investigations proceeds to a formal disciplinary action, the penalties and effects can damage a pharmacist’s career, reputation, and livelihood. Therefore, having an experienced attorney present from the complaint’s inception is imperative in making sure that the pharmacist is prepared and equipped for handling the complaint process.
Pharmacist misconduct revolves around the pharmacist acting improperly and not maintaining the California State Board of Pharmacy standards. Such actions include:
- Nonpharmacists performing pharmaceutical duties
- Failing to preserve the confidentiality of the patient’s prescription and medical situation
- Providing insufficient information regarding the issued drug and its possible side effects to the patient
- Performance being hindered by drug or alcohol usage
- Committing sexual misconduct
- Committing fraud, theft, or dishonesty
- Having unsafe and/or unsanitary conditions in the pharmacy
Prescriptions errors focus on violations of California State Board of Pharmacy standards when issuing prescriptions. Such instances include:
- Providing incorrect information on the prescription container such as the wrong directions for a drug
- Issuing the incorrect drug or wrong dosage of a prescribed drug
- Refilling a prescription without the authorization from a physician
- Issuing a generic alternative for a prescription drug without the patient’s knowledge
- Providing expired drugs for a prescription
- Failing to review and/or consider the patient’s medical history when issuing a drug
- Failing to make changes to the prescription due to the changes in the patient’s condition
After a thorough investigation from the board, a decision is made regarding the complaint’s validity. If the complaint is considered unfounded, then the investigation is stopped. If, however, the complaint is warranted, the board will take the case to the local district attorney’s offices or the Attorney General of California for prosecution.
Depending on the severity and frequency of the offenses, the retributions can vary:
- Filed misdemeanor and fine
- Participating in coursework to help correct issues raised in the complaint
- Probation for an allotted time with specific terms and conditions pertaining to the nature of the complaint
- Restrictions on supervising and/or practicing pharmacy
- Public reprimand
- Revoked and canceled license
- Other retributions that fit the nature of the complaint
For pharmacists, enduring such complaints can mar their reputation, which is why it is imperative to have an attorney well-versed in pharmacy law there to assist you from the complaint’s inception.
With a strong legal team available at Kevin Cauley, P.C., many of the complaints and administrative actions can be resolved outside of protracted litigation, providing protection for your pharmacy license. Send an email or call 213-465-1153 for representation.