The Newfoundland and Labrador Pharmacy Board (NLPB) protects the public by governing the profession of pharmacy to ensure quality and ethical care. One way that NLPB protects the public is through the Complaints and Discipline process. Through this process, NLPB investigates complaints it receives about pharmacy care, and educates and disciplines pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, interns, and students when appropriate.
- Registrant: a pharmacist, pharmacy technician, intern, or student who is registered with NLPB and allowed to practice pharmacy in NL
- Allegation: the legal term for a complaint filed
- Complainant: a person who files an allegation
- Respondent: a registrant against whom an allegation is filed
- Conduct deserving of sanction: the legal term for actions of a registrant that are not allowed and that can form the basis of an allegation
If You Have a Concern
First, try talking to your practitioner or the pharmacy manager about your concerns with the pharmacy care you received. Sometimes problems occur because there has been a misunderstanding. Having a discussion will often resolve your questions and concerns.
If your practitioner does not resolve your concerns, or if you are not comfortable talking to your practitioner, contact the Complaints and Quality Assurance Coordinator at NLPB. Sometimes the Coordinator, or another NLPB staff member, can help resolve the issue. If this is not possible, the Complaints and Quality Assurance Coordinator will explain how to file an allegation.
The Complaints Process
Allegations can be brought to NLPB’s attention by telephone, e-mail, or in person. When an allegation is received, the Complaints and Quality Assurance Coordinator will provide you with a Complaint Form to fill out. It may be appropriate to attach other documents, such as prescriptions, to this form.
If, for any reason, you are unable to complete the Complaint Form, NLPB can provide access to a Complaints Facilitator to assist you in putting your concern in writing.
Once the Complaint Form is filled out, the Respondent will be given a copy and asked to respond in writing. When the written response is received, you will be provided with a copy and asked if you want to make any further comments. If you provide further comments, the Respondent will also be given another chance to respond.
Once you and the Respondent have both provided statements, the Registrar of NLPB will review the matter. THe Registrar may ask both parties if they would like to try to resolve the matter with the Registrar’s help. This is called Alternative Dispute Resolution.
If the allegation cannot be resolved this way, the Registrar will refer the matter to the Complaints Authorization Committee (Committee) for review. The Committee is made up of pharmacy practitioners and public representatives.
The Committee will review the allegation and may do a number of things including:
- Ask the Registrar to try Alternative Dispute Resolution with both parties
- Conduct an investigation
- Request a meeting with the respondent
- Refer the matter to the Quality Assurance Committee
- Dismiss the allegation
- Issue a counsel or caution to the Respondent
- Refer the allegation to the Board’s Disciplinary Panel for a hearing
If the Committee conducts an investigation, you may be asked to provide a statement or additional information to an investigator. The Respondent must also cooperate with an investigation and must follow any order that the Committee makes.
If a hearing is held by the Disciplinary Panel, you and other witnesses may be required to testify. The Disciplinary Panel will hear evidence and will make a decision about whether the Respondent is guilty of conduct deserving of sanction. If so, the Disciplinary Panel will also let you know the outcome.
- Are there types of allegations that NLPB cannot accept?
NLPB can only accept allegations that are about the actions of a registrant that may be considered conduct deserving of sanction. The types of actions that may be considered conduct deserving of sanction are outlined in the laws, bylaws, and standards that apply to registrants. The Complaints and Quality Assurance Coordinator will be able to tell you if your allegation is one that cannot be accepted.
- How long does the Complaints and Discipline process take?
The length of the process varies with the complexity of the allegation. Some allegations are resolved very quickly while others take months or a year or longer. If you file an allegation with the Board you will receive updates throughout the process.
- Are there any costs associated with filing an allegation?
There are no costs for filing an allegation.
- If I file an allegation, do I have to be involved with the process?
Generally, yes. You are usually the best source of information about what happened. You may need to provide a statement, documents, or testify if the matter is referred to the Disciplinary Panel for a hearing.
- Can I change my mind after filing an allegation?
At any point after an allegation is filed, a complainant can request to withdraw their allegation against the registrant. All withdrawal requests are reviewed by the Registrar who determines whether it is in the public interest to grant the request. If the Registrar is of the view that it is in the public interest to continue with the investigation, the withdrawal will be denied, the investigation will be completed, and the results of the investigation will be reviewed by the Complaints Authorization Committee.
- What if my allegation is dismissed by the Complaints Authorization Committee?
If the Committee dismisses your allegation, you will be told why in writing and can appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.
- If I file an allegation, can I also take legal action?
Filing an allegation has no effect on any other legal action you choose to consider.
- What kinds of sanctions might a registrant receive?
Some examples of the types of sanctions a registrant may receive include:
- a counsel or caution
- a suspension or restriction of his or her practice
- a requirement to participate in training or an appropriate treatment program
- a fine
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