PharmaNet is a valuable tool for protecting public safety that allows pharmacy professionals to review a patient’s complete medication history and check a prescription for drug allergies and harmful drug interactions before dispensing medication. However, with access to patient information comes the responsibility to uphold legislative requirements and ethical obligations for patient privacy and confidentiality.
PROFESSIONAL OBLIGATIONS REMINDER
The College would like to remind registrants of their professional obligations for PharmaNet use. There have been incidents where registrants have accessed PharmaNet when they did not have authorization. Instead patient profiles were accessed because a registrant was “curious” about their fellow colleagues or patients.
The Pharmacy Operations and Drug Scheduling Act (PODSA), Bylaws, s. 21, sets out the following rules regarding Data Collection, Transmission of and Access to PharmaNet Data:
s.21 (2) A registrant may collect and transmit patient record information to PharmaNet or access a patient’s PharmaNet record only
(a) to dispense a drug,
s. 21(3) A registrant may collect and transmit patient record information to PharmaNet or access a patient’s PharmaNet record only for the purposes of claims adjudication and payment by an insurer.
Professional Ethics Reminder
Pharmacists are also reminded of their ethical responsibilities to protect their patients’ right to confidentiality. Standard 4 of the College’s Code of Ethics outlines the following guidelines regarding patient confidentiality:
In a number of cases, registrants have been found accessing PharmaNet without authorization to find information about fellow colleagues, or patients outside their practice. Failure to meet the requirements set by these bylaws is considered a very serious matter. All registrants must uphold both legislative requirements and ethical obligations for patient privacy and confidentiality in their practice and failure to do so will result in formal action by the Inquiry Committee.
Here’s how two cases of inappropriate use of PharmaNet played out:
Using the name of another registrant, a pharmacist accessed the PharmaNet records of seven co-workers without their prior consent or knowledge. The access of these PharmaNet records was not for the purpose of dispensing a drug, nor to provide patient consultation, nor to evaluate a patient’s drug usage.
The Inquiry Committee considered this equivalent to professional misconduct and requested the Registrant to consent to specific formal undertakings that included a Letter of Reprimand and a fine.
In another incident, four pharmacists accessed patient profiles on PharmaNet without a valid medical reason. In this case, the Inquiry Committee equated their actions to professional misconduct and requested that each pharmacists consent to a fine.