Fitness to practise in pharmacy: a study of impairment in professional practice
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Objective To explore the opinions and knowledge of Australian pharmacists about impairment in the profession, and their awareness of new legislation regarding impairment and mandatory reporting. Setting Pharmacy practice in Australia. Method Pharmacists’ opinions and knowledge were explored using a purposively designed, de-identified survey distributed by an intermediate mailing house to randomly selected pharmacists registered with the Pharmacy Board. Descriptive statistics and thematic analyses were conducted on the data. Key Outcome Measures This being an explorative study, we analysed various items using standard statistical methods and qualitative thematic analysis for responses to open-ended questions. Results Responses from 370 registered pharmacists were obtained. Of these, nearly 60% were not confident in their knowledge of legislation relating to impairment. The vast majority stated they would consider reporting an impaired colleague in principle, but only after consulting the colleague. Older pharmacists demonstrated increased awareness of new legislation; this was accompanied however, by a marked decrease in confidence regarding knowledge about impairment. Thematic analysis of the qualitative data revealed four main themes: (1) perception of impairment and support systems available (2) stigma related to implications of impairment and whistle-blowing (3) factors affecting reporting of impairment and (4) management of impairment. Conclusion Australian pharmacists in this study recognised the importance of the issue of impairment, but appeared to lack confidence and/or awareness of legislative requirements regarding impairment in the profession. There is a need for educative programs and accessible, profession-specific rehabilitative programs to be instigated for management of impairment in the profession of pharmacy in Australia.
KeywordsFitness to practise Impairment Legislation Pharmacy practice Pharmacists Practice support Australia
We are grateful for the contribution of participating pharmacists in NSW, Australia.
This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.
Conflicts of interest
No conflict of interest declared.
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