An Airdrie pharmacist was recently suspended by the Alberta College of Pharmacy (ACP) after the regulatory body found him guilty of unprofessional conduct by failing to provide the necessary supervision for an unregulated staff member while working as the manager of Creekside Pharmacy.
According to a media release issued on May 9, an ACP hearing tribunal ordered a three-month suspension and other penalties to Osazuwa Edomwonyi following the incident they determined posed a risk to members of the public.
“While no patient came to any apparent harm in this case, without consequential change in supervisory consistency and effectiveness, the potential for harm in the future could be significant,” the release stated. “This case illustrates the importance of supervision in all aspects of the practice of pharmacy.”
The release stated that an unregulated staff member had administered drugs by injection without authorization, including vitamin B12 and flu shots, to patients on two separate occasions. Thereafter, the staff member created inaccurate patient reports and third-party insurer claims.
According to the ACP, unregulated pharmacy staff members are not authorized to administer injections at any time.
“The second occasion occurred after Edomwonyi had become aware of the first incident and took some action to address the matter,” stated the press release.
“However, the unauthorized injections, and associated improper conduct, re-occurred.”
The quasi-judicial hearing, held virtually on Nov. 9, 2021, deemed that potential for patient harm was created through Edomwonyi’s inactions, the integrity of the pharmacy profession was undermined, and the public’s trust in the profession was eroded.
The Airdrie City View attempted to reach Edomwonyi for comment by contacting Creekside Pharmacy, whose staff passed along the inquiry to Edomwonyi. As of press time, he had not responded to the request.
In an interview with the Airdrie City View, ACP registrar Greg Eberhart said the Health Professions Act works in conjunction with the Government Organization Act to determine who can provide certain types of restricted activities in the public sphere, including injections or invasive procedures on body tissues.
He added the college is authorized through the Health Professions Act to regulate and govern the practices of pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and the operation of licensed pharmaceutical establishments.
“We have a responsibility to ensure the legislation is upheld and that pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and proprietors of pharmacy comply with the legislation,” Eberhart said. “In this case, it was found the pharmacist, licensee, and proprietor had egregiously contravened the legislations and there was a potential risk to the public.
“And certainly, that non-compliance with the legislation and code of ethics of the ACP was demonstrated, and therefore, they felt that the merits were well founded, and it was necessary to prescribe sanctions.”
According to Eberhart, the decision to implement disciplinary measures was based on the pharmacist’s failure to provide appropriate supervision to “ensure the safety and the well-being of the public,” and to ensure that unregulated individuals were not “autonomously providing services that were restricted to regulated health professionals.”
“I think this is just another example of the college acting in the public’s best interest and when we determine there are facts that demonstrate our members have contravened the act or our code of ethics and the safety and well-being of the public has or may be affected, we take that very seriously.”
According to the press release, Edomwonyi was remorseful for his actions and inactions, accepted full responsibility, and complied with the investigation and hearing tribunal.
Penalties and fines levied against the pharmacist include the suspension of his practice permit between June 21 and Sept 21, inclusive. Edomwonyi will be required to provide a copy of the written decision to any pharmacy employer or licensee of any pharmacy where he works as a pharmacist for three years.
The pharmacist will also be required to pay a fine of $2,500 and a payment of $10,000 toward the costs of the investigation and hearing.
“The public must have the confidence that all Alberta pharmacists and pharmacies operate in accordance with the legislation that relates to the practice of pharmacy in Alberta and the Standards and Code of Ethics set forth by the Alberta College of Pharmacy,” the statement read.