Ethical Decision Making in the Pharmacy
By Robin Luke, CPhT
We hear about pharmacists' dilemmas regarding ethical decisions that touch their passion and make it challenging to complete a task because it feels wrong. But pharmacy technicians deal with this as well.
Some things pharmacy technicians could encounter include patients who are non-compliant or seeking higher limits of their medication than what is prescribed or some personal bias. When confronted with an ethical issue or dilemma, pharmacy technicians may need to systematically work through steps to make a professional, sound decision.
In an Ontario College of Pharmacists study conducted in March 2019, a framework was designed to help provide a systemic, thought-provoking approach to decision making.
Perhaps you may find these tips listed below found in the guide helpful as well:
- IDENTIFY THE ISSUE AND EXAMINE THE FACTS
- What is the ethical dilemma?
- Does a conflict of values complicate the ethical dilemma?
- What are the key facts?
- If related to a patient issue, what are the patient's wishes? Is there sufficient information to make a well-thought-out decision?
- APPLY GUIDELINES AND STANDARDS
- What does the Code of Ethics say about the dilemma?
- What do the Standards of Practice say?
- Are there legislation, policies, or guidelines that need to be considered?
- Is there any applicable research or literature available to inform or support you?
- Is there anyone you should consult?
- EVALUATE POSSIBLE RESOLUTIONS
- Determine at least three alternative courses of action. Consider the strengths and limitations of each
- In considering potential resolutions, would this course of action:
- Put your patient first and respect their right as autonomous people?
- Bear public scrutiny?
- Be considered acceptable as a precedent for future behavior?
- Support our commitment to serve better and protect the best interest of our patients?
- IMPLEMENT AND DOCUMENT YOUR DECISION-MAKING
- Choose an appropriate strategy and execute that decision
- Document the reasoning of the decision, which should include an explanation on it will help the patient reach the best possible health outcome
- REVIEW AND REFLECT
- Review on the outcome:
- What did you learn from it?
- What might you have done differently to produce a better outcome?
- Share learning and outcomes with colleagues and other healthcare personnel if applicable