Tag: pharmacist’s license lawyer

Pharmacists: Protect yourself by spreading responsibility

The responsibilities of an Oregon pharmacist are extensive

A pharmacist licensed to practice pharmacy by the Oregon Board of Pharmacy has the duty to use that degree of care, skill, diligence and professional judgment that is exercised by an ordinarily careful pharmacist in the same or similar circumstances. See OAR 855-019-0200. The general responsibilities of a pharmacist are extensive, and there are many opportunities to make a mistake. See, e.g., OAR 855-019-0200(1)-(7) (listing some responsibilities). Moreover, a retail or institutional pharmacy may only only be operated when a pharmacist is physically present in the pharmacy to supervise the pharmacy. See OAR 855-041-1015(1). It should come as no surprise then, that most mistakes or problems will be assigned to the pharmacist on duty when the mistake is made or the problem arises in some damaging way.

Be wary, share the problem, and implement corrections

Although a practicing pharmacist will always be responsible for meeting professional standards, be wary of accepting responsibility for institutional problems, or the problems of others. If workload is too high to avoid medication or dispensing errors, or if technicians or cashiers are exceeding the lawful scope of their respective roles, or whatever the problem may be, expose and share the problem. Be proactive. Find and implement solutions. Otherwise, you may be assuming sole responsibility for problems and mistakes that will no doubt occur under your supervision.

Do not become isolated; report upstream; seek help

If problems are not easily corrected, do not sit of the problem. Do not become isolated with the problem. Instead, report the problem upstream. A friendly email spotting a potential problem and asking for help is a good place to start. Proposing a solution is even better. The worst thing you can do, however, is to become isolated and do nothing, all the while being responsible for an unsafe practice that will eventually result in a problem that is reported to the Oregon Board of Pharmacy. When that happens, blaming the pace of workplace, or the staff, or the corporate management, will not get you very far if you failed to address the problem you spotted on your watch, while you were supervising the pharmacy.

Report the problem to others licensed by Oregon Board of Pharmacy

Each pharmacy must have one pharmacist-in-charge employed on a regular basis at each location who shall be responsible for the daily operation of the pharmacy. See OAR 855-041-1010(1). Share the problem with your pharmacist-in-charge. If you are the pharmacist-in-charge, report up to management and ownership. Remember, the pharmacy is also licensed by the Oregon Board of Pharmacy, and the pharmacy must ensure that it is in compliance with all state and federal laws and rules governing the practice of pharmacy and that all controlled substance records and inventories are maintained in conformance with the keeping and inventory requirements of federal law and board rules. See OAR 855-041-1010(2). If you instead choose to “sit” on a problem until it results in a complaint to the Oregon Board of Pharmacy – because your believe you lack the authority to correct the problem, or your believe that management “won’t do anything” – then the problem will be your problem alone, when the Oregon Board of Pharmacy becomes involved. Don’t let this happen to you.

When all else fails

If you genuinely believe you have no one to report to that will help you, then the problem is truly yours to resolve. At this point, you will be best served to consult a pharmacy inspector, or an experienced attorney, for guidance. An experienced licensure attorney can contact the Board of Pharmacy looking for solutions, without disclosing your name. In the rare event that you are left with no other alternative than to report your pharmacy to the Oregon Board of Pharmacy, an experienced licensure attorney can make the report for you, in the most constructive fashion. The alternative is to sit on a ticking time bomb. Don’t do it.

A cautionary tale for Oregon retail pharmacists

Corporate retail staffing decisions and the Oregon Board of Pharmacy

Twice this year, I have represented relatively new pharmacists practicing their profession in the hustle and bustle of two different national corporate retail pharmacy chains. In both cases, the pharmacist needed or requested staffing that corporate management did not allow, and in both cases the practice of pharmacy suffered, dispensing errors and/or counseling errors occurred, and complaints were filed with the Oregon Board of Pharmacy. Not surprisingly, in both cases, the pharmacist sought to defend against the Board complaint by explaining the staffing decisions imposed by corporate management, but be forewarned: That justification is not considered an extenuating circumstance by the Oregon Board of Pharmacy.

What you need to know

Please know that the Oregon Board of Pharmacy expects you to protect the practice of pharmacy, even when to do so is at odds with decisions by corporate managers. While I am of the opinion that the Oregon Board of Pharmacy could do a better job of getting this message out to all new pharmacists, this is what I have experienced while representing pharmacists before the Board of Pharmacy. Simply put, your ultimate professional responsibility is to your profession – the practice of safe pharmacy – not your employer. See, e.g., OAR 855-019-0200 (pharmacist’s standard of care); OAR 855-019-0200(1)-(7) (responsibilities of the pharmacist); OAR 855-041-1015(1) (pharmacist required to be present in the pharmacy to supervise the pharmacy).

The tension between protecting your Oregon pharmacist’s or abiding your corporate employer

If you are practicing in a corporate retail pharmacy, you are surrounded by a sea of commercial activity, and all of it, including the staffing levels in your your pharmacy, is managed by business types. At times, you may be the only licensed healthcare provider on the premises.Your professional training, experience, and responsibilities as an Oregon pharmacist make you unique in that setting, leaving you alone to protect the practice of pharmacy throughout the day. In other words, you are uniquely liable to the Oregon Board of Pharmacy. Never lose sight of that fact, because the Oregon Board of Pharmacy has little sympathy for a pharmacist that defers to corporate management if that deference compromises the practice of pharmacy.

Expectations of the Oregon Board of Pharmacy

The general concern of the Oregon Board of Pharmacy is to ensure patient safety, the competency of every pharmacist, and the security of the drug inventory. If corporate management places you in a predicament where either corporate managers will be unhappy, or the practice of pharmacy will be compromised, the Oregon Board of Pharmacy will tell you it is your professional obligation to protect the practice of pharmacy, not the employer’s wishes. This is true even if it is necessary to take extreme action to temporarily close the pharmacy until adequate staffing arrives to ensure the safe practice of pharmacy. If you haven’t the authority take such extreme action when necessary to ensure the safe practice of pharmacy, it may be advisable to call a licensure lawyer, or an inspector at the Board of Pharmacy, to gain the perspective or assistance. In the end, you will have protected the practice of pharmacy, which is what the Board of Pharmacy expects of you as a licensed pharmacist. You will also have protected your license to practice pharmacy.


I am a licensure lawyer, not an employment law lawyer. An employment law lawyer might share very different observations with you, observations intended to protect your employment, not your Oregon pharmacist’s license. As a licensure lawyer, I am sharing what I have learned while representing pharmacists before the Oregon Board of Pharmacy. By sharing my observations here, I hope to help you protect your Oregon pharmacist’s license, while an employment law lawyer might provide very different observations intended to protect your employment. Indeed, this disclaimer reveals the very real tension occasionally faced by pharmacists while practicing in the large, corporate retail pharmacy chain stores.