The ethics of being unethical – the Poll Results

Well, the moment of truth has arrived.  Last week, I invited all the UK pharmacists to partake in a series of polls detailing typical ethical dilemmas we all face from day-to-day.  The results of these polls can be found below. 

I need to highlight the fact that due to the ‘unscientific’ principles of these polls, none of the results below can be taken as representative of the profession as a whole.  It is however, interesting to note that as a profession we do excercise our right to use our professional judgement as can be seen where the need(s) of the patient outweighs the legal aspects.  Also of note is the fact that as a profession we will, at least most of the time, seek out alternative methods, and go to great lengths, to serve our customer’s need(s) and at the same time try to comply to regulations as can be seen from the choice of answers in the 5th poll.

There is however one point that bears notice, and that is – pharmacists do not ‘lend’ out temazepam!

I had also received one comment that highlighted the lack of opportunity for the respondent to either explain their choice or to stipulate further reasoning.  This point further highlights the fact that these results should not be used in any fashion other than that it is interesting.

My thanks to all those who took the time to answer the polls, and on that note, herewith the results:

Scenario 1: Receive a Rx for fentanyl patches from local GP calling for ‘as directed’ instructions.

Answer

Votes

Percent

Yes, I will dispense, because I know the patient and the GP – will send the Rx back for amendment

5

33%

No, I will not dispense because the Rx does not comply with regulations

5

33%

Yes, I will dispense after having telephoned the GP

3

20%

Yes, I will dispense, because the GP always shouts at me and resents my interference regarding ‘menial’ issues

1

7%

Yes, I will dispense, because I know I will never get through to the GP

1

7%

Scenario 2: Patient returned medicines – do you return to stock?

Answer

Votes

Percent

No, it is against regulations – stock gets destroyed

9

90%

Yes, provided that the products are still in a good condition

1

10%

Yes, provided that I know the person who had returned it

0

0%

Scenario 3: A close friend of yours asks you to provide the address of an old acquaintance who has just come out of hospital – she would like to send a card.

Answer

Votes

Percent

No dice, against the Law

10

77%

Yes I would provide because I trust my friend

2

15%

Yes, I would provide for no real harm will come of it

1

8%

Scenario 4: The owner of your business asks you to partake in an export of medicines programme.

Answer

Votes

Percent

Forget it, there is enough problems in the supply chain

7

58%

Yes, it is not against the Law

4

33%

Yes, because I need this job and can not afford to lose it

1

8%

Scenario 5: Palliative care patient. You receive a faxed Rx for diamorphine late Saturday afternoon, followed by a phone call by the OOH Service GP promising to post origin.

Answer

Votes

Percent

I will collect the Rx after closing time and deliver to the patient’s residence

5

38%

Yes, I will dispense, the patient is my first concern

3

23%

Nope, it is against the Law – forget it

3

23%

Yes, I will dispense for I know both the GP and the patient

2

15%

Scenario 6: Brand v generic. Rx for Marol (directed by local PCT) you substitute with whatever generic you have in store.

Answer

Votes

Percent

Yes, but first obtain prescriber’s permission

7

58%

Yes, PCT only directs due to financial consideration and not clinical

4

33%

No, will obtain Marol – patient will have to wait

1

8%

Scenario 7: A well-known customer requests a sale of Anthisan Cream to use for treating the bee sting of her dog.

Answer

Votes

Percent

No, irrespective of all considerations, it is still illegal

6

46%

Yes, I would sell because I know the customer

4

31%

Yes, I would sell because I do not want to ‘loose’ the customer

3

23%

Scenario 8: You are requested to ‘lend’ one of your monthly patients temazepam until the local surgery processes the Rx.

Answer

Votes

Percent

No, it is against the Law

11

92%

Depends on how well I know the patient

1

8%

Yes, I would put the patient first

0

0%

Scenario 9: If your local GP asked you, late Saturday afternoon, to dispense a CD like temazepam, without a Rx? You know both the patient and GP very well.

Answer

Votes

Percent

No, it is against the Law, end of story

9

69%

Yes, I would put the patients needs first

2

15%

Depends on the indication and explanation the GP provides

2

15%

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