Professional Incompetence: Making Errors on the Job

When someone is guilty of professional incompetence, they have demonstrated poor judgment, knowledge, or skills on the job, and have possibly put someone’s welfare at risk. This can happen in any profession. I do not have personal experience witnessing professional incompetence in the workplace, but as a future Registered Pharmacy Technician I would like to consider what this could look like in the pharmacy industry, by drawing from an experience in my family.

Over 40 years ago, when my older sister was an infant, my mother picked up a prescription for her for oral antibiotics. However, when my mother got home and was about to administer the medication, she knew the prescription wasn’t correct as they had given her large pills that an infant would not be able to swallow, instead of the intended liquid medicine. After a trip back to the pharmacy, my mother realized that she had received the wrong prescription, as she had received someone else’s heart medication. Thank goodness the error was caught before any harm was done to my sister.

This is an example of professional incompetence on the part of the pharmacy, especially the pharmacist who would’ve been responsible for checking all aspects of the prescription, many years before Registered Pharmacy Technicians. However, I would like to consider what I would do if this happened today, and I was the Registered Pharmacy Technician responsible for checking the medication, but the wrong medication still made its way to the patient who later returned to make me aware of the mistake. I know it’s ethical behaviour to admit the mistake and take the necessary steps to rectify the situation, even if that meant I could get into trouble and be fired. I would have made a mistake that could’ve harmed a patient, and that is not something to hide, but rather is something to learn from, as well as reap the professional consequences. It would be my job as a Registered Pharmacy Technician to work to the best of my ability, and giving the wrong medication, though not intentionally, means I wouldn’t have been using my skills and knowledge wisely. I would be guilty of professional incompetence, and that should not go unnoticed, but be dealt with accordingly.

Humans will make errors; risking professional consequences for those errors is a small price to pay if those errors could have dire consequences to someone else’s health, potentially putting their life at risk.


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