You have completed your education and earned your professional license to work as a pharmacist in Texas. However, a complaint against you can potentially threaten your career. You have too much at stake to try and handle a complaint and potential disciplinary action on your own. Instead, call an experienced pharmacist license defense lawyer to assist you in protecting your rights and your reputation. By getting legal representation, you can also better understand the sanctions you may face in disciplinary proceedings before the Texas State Board of Pharmacy (TSBP).
Medication-Related Errors as Grounds for Discipline Against Pharmacists
Under Tex. Occ. Code §565.001, the TSBP may discipline a pharmacy license holder on various grounds. Some of these grounds are related to the handling and dispensing of medications. For instance, these grounds include:
- Failing to maintain complete and accurate records of purchases and disposals of specific drugs under state and federal law;
- Violating any state or federal anti-drug abuse law;
- Dispensing a prescription drug while acting outside the usual course and scope of professional practice;
- Being responsible for a drug audit shortage;
- Selling without legal authorization a prescription drug to an unauthorized person;
- Selling adulterated or misbranded prescription or nonprescription drugs;
- Failing to establish and maintain effective controls against diversion of prescription drugs into other than legitimate and authorized channels; and
- Engaging in fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation in dispensing drugs for nontherapeutic purposes.
Pharmacists also may be subject to discipline for indirect actions related to medication errors, such as inappropriately delegating tasks to or failing to supervise pharmacy technicians or trainees properly.
Potential Sanctions in TSBP Disciplinary Proceedings
Tex. Occ. Code §565.051 authorizes TSBP to issue various sanctions against licensees in disciplinary proceedings, including the following:
- Public reprimand;
- License suspension;
- License revocation;
- Restrictions on a license, such as prohibiting the license holder from performing certain acts or operating a pharmacy in a particular manner for a period and under specific conditions;
- Payment of an administrative penalty;
- Refusal to renew a license;
- Placement of a license on probation and under supervision by TSBP for a period, including conditions such as:
- Reporting regularly to TSBP on related matters;
- Limiting practice in certain areas;
- Continuing or reviewing professional education until attaining a level of skill satisfactory to the board; and
- Paying a probation fee.
- License retirement; and
- Imposing more than one of these sanctions.
TSBP may consider the following aggravating factors under 22 Tex. Admin. Code §281.62 in determining the appropriate sanctions in disciplinary proceedings:
- extent and gravity of personal, economic, or public damage or harm;
- vulnerability of the patient(s);
- willful or reckless conduct, or as a result of a knowingly made professional omission, as opposed to negligent conduct;
- a pattern of misconduct that serves as a basis for discipline;
- prior disciplinary action(s);
- attempted concealment of the conduct serving as a basis for the disciplinary action; and
- violation of a board order.
TSBP also may consider the following mitigating circumstances:
- an isolated incident that serves as a basis for disciplinary action;
- remorse for conduct;
- interim implementation of remedial measures to correct or mitigate harm from the conduct serving as a basis for the disciplinary action;
- the remoteness of misconduct, when not based on delay attributable to actions by the respondent;
- the extent to which the respondent cooperated with the board investigation;
- treatment and/or monitoring of an impairment;
- self-reported and voluntary admissions of the conduct serving as a basis for disciplinary action; and
- if acting as pharmacist-in-charge, the respondent did not personally engage, either directly or indirectly, in the conduct that serves as the basis for disciplinary action; did not permit or encourage, either by professional oversight or extreme negligence, the conduct that serves as the basis for disciplinary action; promptly reported the conduct to the board or other state or federal regulatory authorities or law enforcement upon identifying the conduct that serves as the basis for disciplinary action; and took all reasonable steps to mitigate or remediate the conduct that serves as the basis for disciplinary action.
22 Tex. Admin. Code §281.65 provides a schedule of administrative penalties or monetary sanctions that apply to different rule violations. TSBP may assess administrative penalties instead of or in addition to other sanctions in disciplinary proceedings. Administrative penalties in this section are typically less than $250 but may range as high as $5,000.
Some of these administrative penalties apply to rules and laws to prevent medication errors. These penalties include:
- Failing to conduct a drug regiment review or inappropriate drug regiment reviews: $1,000;
- Failing to clarify a prescription with the prescriber: $1,000;
- Failing to maintain records of prescriptions: $500;
- Failing to provide or providing false or fraudulent information on any application, notification, or other document required under the Code, the Dangerous Drug Act, the Controlled Substances Act, or any other law: $1,000;
- Dispensing a prescription drug according to a forged, altered, or fraudulent prescription: up to $5,000;
- Dispending unauthorized prescriptions: up to $5,000;
- Unauthorized substitutions: $1,000;
- Selling, purchasing, or trading (or offering to do so) misbranded prescription drugs, prescription drugs beyond the manufacturer’s expiration date, or certain prescription drug samples: $1,000; and
- Failing to access the Prescription Monitoring Program for a patient’s information before dispensing opioids, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, or carisoprodol: $500.
In determining the appropriate amount of an administrative penalty, TSBP will consider the seriousness of the violation and the surrounding circumstances, the hazard or potential hazard created to the health, safety, or economic welfare of the public, the aggravating and mitigating factors listed above, and the amount necessary to deter a future violation, and any other matter that justice requires.
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Count on Bertolino LLP, to Defend Your Pharmacist License from Disciplinary Action
When a complaint threatens your ability to earn a living, you need a seasoned pharmacist license defense attorney on your side. We will defend you against these attacks on the credentials you have worked so hard to earn. Get in touch with the lawyers of Bertolino LLP today by calling (512) 515-9518 or visiting us online.