The Post Office Pharmacist …Part 2

By now most of us are familiar with the case of the “Post Office Pharmacist” and the fate that befell upon him at the hands of the Ontario College of Pharmacists (OCP)

http://www.canadianhealthcarenetwork.ca/pharmacists/news/professional/pharmacist-who-didnt-fetch-canada-post-package-faces-college-complaint-44140?utm_source=EmailMarketing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Pharmacy_Newsletter

If this injustice was not enough, the OCP went on to publish this decision in its recent publication Pharmacy Connection.

https://pharmacyconnection.ca/

The assumption must be that, because so many pharmacists reacted negatively to this decision, the OCP felt the necessity to reinforce the reasoning behind the decision.

I wrote a blog about this incident a few months ago.

http://www.canadianhealthcarenetwork.ca/pharmacists/discussions/blogs/crossing-the-rubicon/misplaced-ruling-hurts-pharmacy-and-pharmacists-44325

The pharmacist involved went on to appeal the decision of the Inquiries Complaints and Review Committee (ICRC) of the OCP to the Health Professions Appeal & Review Board (HPARB).  This did him no good, and even though he had counsel present, HPARB ruled in favour of the ICRC/OCP.

Consequences?  This pharmacist lost his job, suffers from anxiety, and basically has had his life turned upside down.  And what for?

This altercation with this irate post office customer (not a patient) may be subject to further scrutiny, but the essence is that, unable to deal with this individual effectively, he went looking for help from the physician at the clinic next door.  He probably should have just called the police and let them handle what could be described as harassment and a potential threat.  The recommendation to call police was what Canada Post gave when contacted about this incident for advice.

In its zeal to make an example of this unfortunate pharmacist, the OCP hinged its decision on the fact that the pharmacist “left the pharmacy unattended” while he went out seeking help in a desperate situation.  One wonders what the consequences would be for a pharmacist who ran out of his store during an armed robbery.

This pharmacist, concerned about his safety, stepped out the front door two feet and went right next door looking for help.  This is a fact, but what happens in a Super Colossal Big Pharmacy Retail Store (BPR) when the attending pharmacist needs to use the washroom, which is located hundreds of yards away from the actual pharmacy department?  (This assumes the pharmacist is allowed to go to the washroom)

In this case, which is highly frequent, now that many pharmacies are just departments in huge mega food drug combos, the pharmacist is much further physically from the pharmacy, and for a much longer period of time.

Why does the OCP not intervene in these physical circumstances and hold the non-pharmacist pharmacy owners accountable?  There’s a very simple solution.  Every one of these pharmacy departments should have self-contained handicap accessible male and female washrooms right in the pharmacy department.

Of course, these washrooms would then take up more square footage than the actual pharmacy and would cost a ton, not to mention take up highly valuable retail space.

Conclusion.  To make a point, it is much easier for the OCP to take action against a single pharmacist with little leverage or power, than to take on BPR and the big-name law firms BPR employs.

This is both a hypocrisy and a gross injustice.

 

14 thoughts on “The Post Office Pharmacist …Part 2

  1. Once again, excellent Blog article.. As you can imagine, this post office parody has all of us very upset. What sort of expectations do we actually have for our so-called professionals? Can you IMAGINE an MD being hauled up on the same charges? I can’t , it would NEVER happen as their Colleges actually help to protect them. Also LOVED Your recent response to the glowing article about IPG’s. As you have laid out, it’s not all rosy. As the other person put (much braver than I on social media now) the number of disciplinary actions against the IPG community of pharmacists “seems” skewed to their demographic. FOR SURE my colleagues and I look through the roster of names on the college disciplinary lists, and we do have to “wonder” why it appears there are a much higher % of IPG’s. Is it out of desparation? Is it because “that’s how we conduct our business in country X ” (for the record I actually had one tell me this)
    Anyway, it would be an intersting topic to unfurl without the rhetoric and emotion and name-calling that goes along…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks LK. Appreciate your readership and your support. Maybe we are using the wrong criteria for licensing healthcare professional including pharmacists. How about ethics and morals being on the questionnaire?

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  2. April
    OCTOBER 3, 2019 AT 6:32 PM
    At para. 28: “The practice-related issue identified by the Committee was that the Applicant left the pharmacy unattended with the Respondent and her son still inside. Although there was an issue as to whether the Applicant remained in the parking lot or departed after he left the pharmacy for the second time, there is no dispute that he left the pharmacy unattended for some period of time and that the Respondent and her son remained in the pharmacy. The Board finds that it was reasonable for the Committee to find that this was a serious issue that required remedial action.”

    Need to clarify it’s not just an interaction or altercation with a post office customer. Furthermore, pharmacists need to be aware of their conduct no matter what the setting, whether at a baseball stadium or post office. Here’s an extreme example:

    A pharmacist is found guilty of sexual interference by luring underage boys. By your definition “the incident involved an individual who was neither a patient of the pharmacy nor a customer of the pharmacy involved”, therefore OCP should do nothing?

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    REPLY EDIT
    Kim
    OCTOBER 3, 2019 AT 7:29 PM
    There are two issues at play here, one being the “leaving the pharmacy” (for whatever reason; one should be able to state their reason for it, as it could range from getting a breath of air outside, to a life-threatening situation for which the person in the moment reacts instinctively, plus everything in between).

    The second is the issue regarding the alleged ability of the member to deal with an angry “customer.” BUT DON’T FORGET THE WOMAN AND CHILD THAT WERE ALSO THERE FOR PHARMACY SERVICES. That aspect, being taken into the mix here, is what most are expressing their disdain for and that alone is what is appalling colleagues right across the country.

    As for your example of sexual interference, in that type of situation, normally the OCP would “back off” during a police investigation so as not to prejudice it, then act upon completion. And it would involve Discipline, not Complaints. No action would be taken in a discipline matter during an active police/criminal investigation so as not to prejudice the final outcome, since a finding in criminal court would become automatic misconduct without needing to prove the case at OCP. Completely different set of circumstances.

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    REPLY EDIT

    OCTOBER 3, 2019 AT 7:30 PM
    No issue, this guy broke the rules. Whether it was justified is up to debate. Was he threatened by this woman? Were his actions justified in the interest of his personal safety? Was the situation out of control? Was this woman becoming hysterical? We do not know.

    Notwithstanding, if the OCP wants to enforce this no leave rule, why does it not apply this to the hundreds of locations where physical circumstances force the pharmacist to leave the pharmacy several times a day and for much longer periods that this particular incident? In all grocery and Big Box locations, this is standard procedure. Why not force these locations to install washrooms within the pharmacy as conditions for accreditation?

    Could it be that what the OCP really did not like the way this guy handled this inter personal event, but OCP got to him through the no leave rule by way of punishment?

    Why is there a double standard? Could it have anything to do with the fact that over 60% of OCP council seats are held by individuals in some way connected to Big Pharmacy Retail?

    Further, are you stating that the OCP has jurisdiction over pharmacists’ personal lives and behaviour? Like even at a baseball game? What about at a mud wrestling match?

    The example you give of a sexual predator is a good one. Clearly this is a hideous criminal act. This is the jurisdiction of the courts and the criminal justice system, not the OCP. If the OCP discovers such behaviour, it is mandated by law to report it to the police. Then get out of the way, along with the church, synagogue, mosque, or any other institution which does not have the authority, moral or otherwise, or any other means to provide a fair assessment of the facts and a fair trial including cross examination.

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  3. This is an unfortunate incident which questions the continuing existence of self regulation and the powers that be. NB OCP is made up of pharmacists to, so something is wrong somewhere. I originally said I would contribute to a legal defense ( I am still willing too). However I believe that any further legal Avenue will lead the pharmacist in question to a dead end. The lawyers will make a tidy sum out of the legal fees, and that’s it. The pharmacist is still likely to lose. Even if he wins, he is still out of a job. If you ask me….the source of his anxiety is not the OCP decision, but the loss of a job. I would reach out to all the pharmacy owners and hiring managers and give this guy a job. Let’s do a go fund me drive to help him out with living expenses until one of you owners gives him a job. So come on. Step up to the plate and reach out to all your contacts and help him out to turn his life around . The legal way is a waste of time. This time David will not win against goliath . Times have changed. I dont comment on the Canadian healthcare network due to differences I have with the editor, so I would ask….. no plead with you guys to reach out through the comments section and get him a job. Why make a lawyer richer? Let’s do the right thing. Give him a job! Also I would recommend someone write a blog about how to manage conflict on the workplace. I think we need a SOP now more than ever to navigate around joe public and their protectors….OCP

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  4. In case you have not looked up the pharmacist who is arguing with everyone…..he works at a non accredited pharmacy dept. Canadian forces health services centre Ottawa. He does not deal with joe public, only disciplined members of our finest. Therefore, can anyone shut him up? Bill, Kim, Frank? Please shut him up as it’s annoying reading his un-eduated comments. I would but I don’t comment on the website.

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    • Wanted to correct the typo….but another word springs to mind……ignoramus! Or another play on the word which might accurately describe him is ignoranus.

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      • We cannot “shut him up” Fayaz, as much as we would like to. Otherwise we would be guilty of the same crime as those who have unjustifiably shut you up. No, we should let the fool play out his game; the audience always recognizes a clown.

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    • Nonetheless, I believe that if we pursue this matter further, it will only expose the poor pharmacist to more unwanted public scrutiny and further harm his chances to getting employment again. No amount of litigation will reverse what has transpired. We should a.) Try help him get some sort of meaningful employment and b.) Look after ourselves. This I mean literally. There is no organization which will come to our aid. We are alone. This means that we should educate ourselves in dealing with issues. Ie. Ensuring that you are familiar with your working environment. If a post office is in your premises, obtain written protocols regarding the service. Record conflicts by cell phone recording. First inform your abuser that the conversation is being recorded. Or ask a member of staff to witness the conversation. Years ago I was in a conflict with a rogue sdm associate. I assumed that I would be treated as a fellow professional ( my experience from working in the UK at the time led me to believe I would….big mistake). Anyway, the next time I had a meeting with him, I asked the front store manager and assistant store manager to witness the meeting and officially record what was discussed. Things turned out differently this time as the rogue was prevented from making stuff up. Police carry bodycams to prevent false allegations being made. Of course we dont need to go that far, but my point is, we need to become smart and protect ourselves. Remember, the customer is always right. You just need to be able to navigate around the god almighty Joe publics arse and come out smelling like roses.

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      • Nb. Kim . If you read this. Wrt to your last comment on the CHN will do nothing to change his mind. He works in a non accredited pharmacy so he has no clue about anything. You might as well talk to a wall.

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  5. Fayaz:

    Hello there. Not sure what “last comment” is now last (lol), but it’s important that the accurate points be made. For example, both Ms. Wood and he don’t see a problem with leaving an unattended pharmacy for “certain types” of incidents, but then do for others. We know that to walk down a mall to a b/r and back is more than “just a minute” and, that it’s out of eyesight of the pharmacist (unlike being right outside the door).

    AND…as for locking the door, the Ontario Fire Code is very clear (Division B, Part 2, section 2.7.2.2.(1)(a)) that any exit door must have a means to open it from inside, usually a thumbscrew as we all know; you’re not “trapped” inside:
    “Requirements for locking, latching and fastening devices

    2.7.2.2. (1) Subject to Sentences (2) and (3), and unless otherwise approved, locking, latching and other fastening devices shall be such that a door can be readily opened from the inside with no more than one releasing operation and without requiring keys, special devices or specialized knowledge of the door opening mechanism on

    (a) every required exit door,”

    While leaving the pharmacy is one thing in a professional light, the other aspect of this matter is the ICRC panel finding he was within his right to refuse getting the parcel, but then tying a condition of remediation TO THAT ASPECT after first stating he had the right to do so (read Pharmacy Connection). Tying penalty to something that they have had said was not in violation seems to be something the court would take a very close look at in terms of the overall decision, and which in my view the HPARB should also have looked at in terms of “reasonableness of the decision.”

    Not all members have the experience of having had to investigate such complex matters and then knowing how the penalty must fit the offence. But if there are multiple issues, and some are not “wrong” then how can you apply a penalty that speaks to the circumstances of that “not wrong” issue?

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    • I agree that the pharmacist handled the situation badly. When he walked outside and locked the door was in my opinion wrong to do. However the penalty imposed does not make sense. Members who have stolen vast sums of money are given a slap on the back of the hand. This is rather like giving a driver going over the speed limit by 10km a 10 year jail sentence. I think most of us are appalled by the penalty. And to lose his job as well? Well my kids will never be pharmacists.

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