Ethical Issues in Pharmacy Tech

As a certified Pharmacy Technician, you are always expected to adhere to a rigorous code of ethics. Failure to do so can result is suspension or even revocation of your Pharmacy Technician licensure by your State Board of Pharmacy. Knowledge of the PTCB code of ethics and an understanding of what is expected of you while working as a Pharmacy Technician in a hospital or community pharmacy in your state will allow you to avoid any ethical violations which could affect your Pharmacy Technician career. Read on to learn more about the PTCB’s Code of Ethics for Pharmacy Technicians.

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Pharmacy Technicians Must Protect Sensitive and Personal Patient Information

Pharmacy Technicians work daily with very sensitive and personal patient information. They consult computerized patient records, verify patient information at intake and prepare labeling of medications for dispersal to patients. Pharmacy Technicians must always interact with patients, co-workers and healthcare professionals in a discreet, confidential and professional manner.

According to the PTCB Code of Conduct for Pharmacy Technicians Section C(3), Pharmacy Technicians must always respect the privacy and confidentiality of patient information and must:

“Maintain and respect the confidentiality of sensitive information obtained in the course of all work and pharmacy-related activities, as directed by the supervising pharmacist and consistent with legal requirements, unless: the information is reasonably understood to pertain to unlawful activity; a court or governmental agency lawfully directs the release of the information; the patient or the employer expressly authorizes the release of specific information; or, the failure to release such information would likely result in death or serious physical harm to employees and/or patients."

Pharmacy Technicians May Only Work Under the Direct Supervision of a Licensed Pharmacist

Pharmacy Technicians may only conduct their assigned duties under the direct supervision of a licensed Pharmacist. Failure to do so may result in severe disciplinary actions by your State Board of Pharmacy. For this reason, if questions ever arise as to deciphering prescriptions, filling prescriptions or dispensing medications to patients, always err on the side of caution and never hesitate to consult the supervising Pharmacist with any questions.

According to the PTCB Code of Ethics for Pharmacy Technicians Section C (2), Pharmacy Technicians must always:

“Recognize practice limitations and provide services only when qualified and authorized by a supervising pharmacist and consistent with applicable laws and regulations. The certificant/candidate is responsible for determining the limits of his/her own abilities based on legal requirements, training, knowledge, skills, experience, and other relevant considerations.”

Pharmacy Technicians Must Abide by All State and Federal Laws and Legal Requirements of Pharmacy Tech Practice

Pharmacy Technicians must abide by all state and federal laws and regulation governing their Pharmacy Tech practice. They must refrain from the violation of any state or federal criminal law or regulatory agency rules.

According to the PTCB Code of Ethics for Pharmacy Technicians Section A (1,2), Pharmacy Technicians must always:

“Act consistent with all legal requirements relating to pharmacy technician practice, including Federal, State, and local laws and regulations.

Refrain from any behavior that violates legal or ethical standards, including all criminal laws, Federal laws and agency regulations, and State laws and regulatory agency rules.”

Learn more about The Laws Governing Pharmacy Technician’s Practice.

Pharmacy Technicians Must Always be Truthful When Providing Information About Their Background, Credentials and Potential Conflicts of Interest

As a Pharmacy Technician you must always be completely truthful when providing requested information concerning your education, performance on exams and work experience. Any disclosures to employers or to the public must always be entirely truthful and accurate. All conflict of interests with employers or with the public must be disclosed appropriately. According to the PTCB Code of Ethics for Pharmacy Technicians Sections (C) (Sections 4,5,8,9 and 10). Pharmacy Technicians must always:

“Provide truthful and accurate representations to the public and employers.

Disclose to patients or employers significant circumstances that could be construed as a conflict of interest or an appearance of impropriety.

Avoid conduct that could cause a conflict of interest with the interests of a patient or employer.

Assure that a real or perceived conflict of interest does not compromise legitimate interests of a patient or employer and does not influence or interfere with work-related judgments.”

Pharmacy Technicians Must Take All Reasonable Steps to Keep the Public, Employees and Employers Safe

As a Pharmacy Technician you must be scrupulous in providing safe pharmacy and related services and following safety and health related policies and procedures. All efforts must be made to take the proper precautions to protect the public, employees and employers from any type of injury or damage. Pharmacy Technicians must always:

“Deliver competent, safe, and appropriate pharmacy and related services. Follow appropriate health and safety procedures with respect to all pharmacy-related activities and duties and protect the public, employees, and employers from conditions where injury and damage are reasonably foreseeable.”

Example of Revocation of a Pharmacy Technician’s License for Violating Criminal Statutes and Unprofessional Conduct

An example case where a Pharmacy Technician’s license was revoked for stealing narcotics is useful as a teaching tool to understand what constitutes a clear violation of state and federal criminal laws, a clear violation of the Maryland Board of Pharmacy’s Code of Regulations (COMAR)and violation of the PTCB’s Code of Ethics for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians.

Background of the Case

A Pharmacy Technician licensed in the state of Maryland (https://health.maryland.gov/pharmacy/docs/FormalOrders/S/Sagi,%20G.%2011-20-13.pdf) and employed as a Pharmacy Technician in the state of Maryland admitted to stealing narcotics from the pharmacy where she was employed.

She admitted stealing 20 tablets of Morphine Sulfate 15 mg, 50 tablets of Hydrocodone APAP 5/500 mg, 50 tablets of Oxycodone HCL 5mg, and 50 tablets of Aprazolam 2mg and was subsequently fired by her employing pharmacy.

The pharmacy then submitted a DEA theft and loss report as required. This was then reported to the Maryland Board of Pharmacy which subsequently suspended the respondents Pharmacy Technician’s license.

Case Disposition

The respondent then failed to request a hearing and her Pharmacy Technician license was summarily revoked.

Case Discussion

The defendant’s Pharmacy Technician’s license was revoked based on violating the following statutes:

“Grounds for reprimand or denial, probation, suspension, or revocation of registration.

Subject to the hearing provision of § 12-315 of this title, the Board may deny a pharmacy technician’s registration to any applicant, reprimand a registered pharmacy technician, place any pharmacy technician’s registration on probation, or suspend or revoke a pharmacy technician’s registration if the applicant or pharmacy technician registrant:

(3) Fraudulently uses a pharmacy technician’s registration

(25) Violates any regulation adopted by the Board: matter

The Board also charged the Respondent with a violation of its Pharmacist and Pharmacy Technician Code of Conduct, COMAR 10.34.10 (November 12, 2001):

.01 Patient Safety and Welfare.

B. A pharmacist may not:

(3) Engage in unprofessional conduct”

Conclusion

As a Pharmacy Technician you must adhere to all applicable State and Federal laws, a strict ethical code established by the PTCB and all regulations and codes of conduct for Pharmacy Technician’s established by your State’s Board of Pharmacy. Failure to do so can result in various sanctions which can include suspension or even revocation of your Pharmacy Technician licensure. Careful adherence to and a comprehensive review of these ethical codes and laws can help ensure patient, employee and employer safety as well as a long and satisfying career for you as a licensed Pharmacy Technician.

Search Pharmacy Technician Programs

Get information on Pharmacy Technician programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

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