Last week’s Tip was oriented around workplace law and safety issues, particularly substance use disorders among pharmacy personnel. This week, we stick with the broader theme of legal issues, this time examining a case where a pharmacist actually sued his state’s board of pharmacy.
Brushwood details the case, its ruling, and further considerations.1 The case transpired in the state of Ohio where a pharmacist sued the board contending that “work conditions at pharmacies are such that pharmacists are unable to comply with the rules established by the board,” contending further that the board had made “missteps in the use of its discretion” thereby impeding the ability of pharmacists to adequately protect the public from the opioid epidemic. The pharmacist sought a writ of mandamus seeking to compel the board to perform acts that the law requires of the board. The pharmacist explained that the board’s rules require patient profiles, prospective drug use review, and an offer of patient counsel and thus a “corresponding responsibility” to screen controlled substance prescriptions. The board sought and achieved dismissal of the suit, noting that mandamus was an “extraordinary remedy” and that the pharmacist lacked “standing to sue” given the absence of a legal action taken against the pharmacist. Brushwood then provides a list of steps to take as an advocate for public health protection when approaching a state board of pharmacy. These include: identify a specific problem that arises under the laws or the board’s interpretation of the laws and how action or inaction has failed to adequately protect the public; propose a specific solution; provide data that support an expectation of better public health protection if the solution is implemented; discuss the solution with individual board members prior to a meeting (one-on-one, which is permissible); anticipate opposition and make modifications; formally submit the proposal; and appear before the board at a scheduled meeting to support the proposal.
Pharmacists, and particularly managers, have the experience and opportunity to affect policy and advocate politically through their state pharmacy association and also directly to the board of pharmacy. Managers might be asked to appear before the board for any number of reasons for which they did not initiate, themselves. In any event, managers must be familiar with laws and regulation, how those laws have been interpreted, and how they impact the workplace and the public’s safety.
Additional information about The Basics of Employment Law and Workplace Safety and Human Resources Management can be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 4e. If you or your institution subscribes to AccessPharmacy, use or create your MyAccess Profile to sign-in to Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 4e. If your institution does not provide access, ask your medical librarian about subscribing.
1Brushwood DB. Ohio pharmacist sues state Board of Pharmacy. Pharmacy Today. 2018;24:42.