Professional Misconduct – A Dilemma Worth Considering (by: Melissa Kellar)

As a future Registered Pharmacy Technician, there is a Code of Ethics we must adhere by, so that our job is carried out in a professional manner, with honesty and integrity, in a way that puts the patient first. However, from time to time we may face ethical dilemmas, such as witnessing professional misconduct, and we will have to decide how to handle it.

I have never personally witnessed professional misconduct at a job, as my place of employment has been in my home, as a mother to my three kids. However, when we were asked to reflect on a situation  when someone did not behave professionally, I remembered a situation my mother recently told me about from her line of work, as a Personal Support Worker (PSW).

A patient was to no longer receive diuretic pills (Hydrochlorothiazide) so the pills were to be removed from her blister pack of medications, and discarded in a special container. However, my mother noticed on her shift that these pills were in a different container, not the discard container, and set off to the side. When she inquired about the odd misplacement of the diuretic pills to one of her PSW colleagues, the colleague was not sure either why they were not properly discarded, so she asked the Registered Nurse (RN) on duty. The RN had no problem announcing that she was taking the pills home to use for herself as she was on them anyway, to save her from buying her own prescription and thus saving her money. The PSW colleague of my mother then preceded to tell the management about the stolen pills, and the RN was fired.

My mother did what I would do, inquire why there was the odd misplacement of the pills. However, would I do what the colleague did and run and tattle on the RN, and risk having her fired, especially over water pills? It was not a narcotic after all. However, it comes back to ethics. The pill may only be a diuretic, however is it still a prescription drug, and someone else’s prescription (even though it was not needed for them anymore), and it still equates to stealing. The bottom line, if I have put in the hard work to become a Registered Pharmacy Technician, I would want to be honest, and though I do not want to be a tattle, I would also not want to lose my license because I looked the other way. The RN should have known better from her own years of training. The ethical thing to do is to never steal prescription drugs; it is also ethical to not allow it to happen.

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