Kenneth R. Baker, BS Pharm, JD
These articles are not intended as legal advice and should not be used as such. When a legal question arises, the pharmacist should consult with an attorney familiar with pharmacy law in his or her state. Ken Baker is a pharmacist and an attorney. He teaches ethics at the Glendale, Arizona, campus of Midwestern University, and risk management for the University of Florida. He consults in the areas of pharmacy error reduction, communication, and risk management. Mr. Baker is an attorney of counsel with the Arizona law firm of Renaud Cook Drury Mesaros, PA. E-mail at [email protected]
Special knowledge may give rise to special duties to warn
State courts have not agreed on the question of when or if pharmacists have a duty to warn a patient of potential ill effects of a prescribed drug. Weigh in on the discussion.
Renewing the patient contract
The end of the year is a good time to think about how we can better serve our patients in the year to come.
The importance of documentation
Lawyers will tell you that "custom and habit" is a weak defense when a jury is confronted with a dead child and a grieving grandmother. Document everything.
Professional liability insurance: A short primer
Pharmacy owners, pharmacists, and technicians should spend some time understanding their insurance policies. It may be time well spent.
Can I say "I'm sorry"?
Pharmacists are often reluctant to apologize. One fear is that lawyers may use their statements against them. Another fear is that they may be violating their own malpractice insurance policies. But there can be advantages to saying, "I made a mistake; I am sorry." A patient may be saved and a possibly explosive situation may be cooled. For most of us, it is the natural thing to do.
Between cowardice and recklessness: The virtue of courage
We do not usually think of courage as a part of a pharmacist's ethical duties, but it is, and it is one that is sometimes the most difficult to practice.
Pharmacy CQI: Monthly Rx safety audits
There are 2 measures of success every pharmacy should post on its wall. The first indicates percentage of QREs (quality-related events) in prescription fills, and the second measures the percentage of QREs caught before they reach the patient.
A question of ethics: When to lie?
A question was posed to students of a pharmacy ethics class. In every case, the answers given by the students were different from the responses of the practicing pharmacists.
Monitoring controlled substances
Thirty-nine states now have a tool to help pharmacists identify at least some questionable prescriptions and suggest when a patient may be doctor-shopping or pharmacy-shopping in order to obtain controlled substances. That tool is the state prescription monitoring program.
Pharmacy CQI: What to bear in mind when you fill out that incident report
Pharmacies can enhance their continuous quality improvement program results by working on three critical elements: implementation, training, and monitoring.

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