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Australian Journal of Pharmacy : October 2006
pdl ’D like to congratulate Professor Barry Reed, president of the Pharmacy Board of Victoria, for his entertaining and important message in the September 2006 edition of that Board’s regular newsletter, Circular, about the importance of respecting the privacy of customers. The issue of privacy is enshrined in both state and federal legislation to pro- tect the rights of individuals. Protecting privacy is also a fundamental responsibil- ity of any health professional. But most importantly, by meeting your legal and professional responsibilities on privacy, you get the satisfaction of ensuring the interests of your customer/patient is pro- tected. A customer, properly looked after and respected, usually becomes a loyal customer. The issue is recognised within the Qual- ity Care Pharmacy Program, which requires evidence that the professional services area of the pharmacy is distin- guishable from the trading area. Regis- tration to QCPP also requires proof that the professional services area has space set aside for confidential conversations. This How to treat? I pdl risk management news Pharmaceutical Defence Limited chairman John Coppock Privacy is critical to pharmacy I is an important point, especially for those considering future refits. Privacy legislation also places some bar- riers in the way of what we’d like to be doing. A good example is the difficulty surrounding the creation of a workable national database for patients which lists their health details, including the medi- cines they take. Privacy legislation requires that this be an ‘opt-in’ approach, where it is the decision of the patient whether they participate in the system or not. This presents difficulties because practically, it would be much easier to use an ‘opt-out’ approach which requires patients to make a decision not to partic- ipate. Efforts to create such a database continue years after the process began. Likewise, privacy legislation is stymieing efforts to roll out the excellent Project Stop system which helps pharma- cies and police to crack down on the illicit diversion of pseudoephedrine-containing medicines to methamphetamines. Yet privacy is seen as fundamental to Australian society and we have to work within its parameters—voters wouldn’t have it any other way. ’D like to thank Kim Teh for an email enquiry about PDL’s Guide to Good Dispensing. Kim questioned why there was no reference in the Guide to checking that the ‘how to take’ directions printed on the label matches that of the prescription during the labelling/label check steps. This was a good question—when the Guide was developed, this process was assumed. However, in hindsight, one should never assume and as a consequence to Kim’s question, this step will be added to the Guide when it is next reprinted. In his message from the president, Pro- fessor Reed began by describing a funny sketch by John Cleese acting as a phar- macist who, holding a number of pre- scriptions, yells out to customers gather- ing around the dispensary: ‘Er, who’s got the pox? Come on, who’s got the pox? Who’s got the boil on the bum? Boil on the botty...?’ and it goes on. While it’s funny from an observer’s perspective and obviously extreme, it clearly demonstrates why we need to be careful about the pri- vacy of our customers. As Professor Reed writes: ‘All pre- scribed medicines and many that are sup- plied without a prescription, are to be treated in a confidential manner. The pri- vacy rules extend to all dispensed medi- cines and not simply those that are used for sensitive or potentially embarassing purposes. Inadvertant breaches occur fre- 10 ? THE AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF PHARMACY VOL.87 OCTOBER 2006 quently. For example, the practice of clients carrying open baskets of dispensed medicines to the cash register immedi- ately discloses the nature of their medi- cines to other clients. What might be acceptable in a supermarket is not accept- able in a pharmacy. Bagging of medicines before placing them in the basket solves the problem; the price can be shown on the bag or attachment. Likewise, the daily administration of certain drugs should not be carried out in the manner of liquor being served at a hotel bar. I cannot think of any other health profession that carries out its role...within full view and hearing of others Other disclosure occurs if PBS prescrip- tions are sorted on the front counter for all to see as was observed by a less-than- impressed Health Services Commis- sioner. Are medicines that are awaiting collection stored out of public view? Are conversations about a person’s medicines and their health conducted across the dis- pensing counter within everyone’s hear- ing? Do people congregate at the serving counter so allowing people to see others’ medicines? Compare the latter with a queue at an ATM—customers always stand back discreetly so permitting the user to transact his or her business pri- vately. And the same takes place in banks. I cannot think of any other health pro- fession that carries out its role—tactile or cognitive—within full view and hearing of others. Perhaps the outmoded notion of ‘open shop’ still holds sway. But just as times and laws change, so must pharma- cists’ attitudes and practices... There are two simple rules: use your common sense and treat people exactly the same way you would like to be treated.’ I couldn’t agree more. ¦