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Irricana pharmacist suspended, faces $40,000 in fines due to 'unprofessional' record-keeping practices

Irricana Remedy's RX pharmacist Anamaria Muresan has been suspended for four months and forced to pay $40,000 in fines, after an Alberta College of Pharmacy (ACP) hearing tribunal found her guilty of unprofessional conduct related to unethical re
Ana Muresan, the pharmacist at Irricana's Remedy's RX, has been fined $40,000 and faces a four-month suspension from the Alberta College of Pharmacy due to unprofessional record-keeping practices.

Irricana pharmacist Anamaria Muresan has been suspended for four months and forced to pay more than $40,000 in fines, after an Alberta College of Pharmacy (ACP) hearing tribunal found her guilty of unprofessional conduct related to her record-keeping practices.

According to a Jan. 13 press release from the ACP, Muresan was accused of record-keeping deficiencies, after complaints were issued from a third-party insurer about missing supplier invoices from her business, Remedy's RX pharmacy in Irricana.

A quasi-judicial hearing tribunal concluded in October 2021 that Muresan “failed to ensure her pharmacy had an effective record-keeping system,” and also did not maintain required and accurate pharmacy records. The hearing tribunal’s verdict – delivered on Nov. 30, 2021 – and an agreed statement of facts are outlined in a 20-page report published on the ACP’s website.

“The regulatory framework that governs pharmacists makes it clear that record-keeping is central to the role of both pharmacists and licensees,” reads the ACP’s rationale for its decision.

“Pharmacists are obligated to inform themselves of regulatory requirements. The failure to comply with record-keeping requirements is of great concern, since it has the potential to negatively impact public trust in pharmacists’ ability to provide services in a professional manner.”

As a result of the tribunal hearing's verdict, the ACP ordered a series of sanctions against Muresan, including a four-month suspension, with one month to be served this April and the other three held in abeyance for three years.

She also faces fines of $40,000, and must provide a copy of the written decision to the employer or licensee of any business where she works as a pharmacist for three years.

The pharmacist is also to pay 80 per cent of the total costs of the investigation against her, according to the ACP's press release, which amounted to approximately $22,000.

As far as what led to the sanctions, the 20-page report states Muresan submitted nearly $34,000 for protein drinks Ensure, Ensure Plus, Glucerna, and Ensure High Protein to Alberta Blue Cross, but was unable to provide the required supporting supplier invoices for the claims.

She was also alleged to have submitted claims for more than one pharmacy service per patient per day, in the absence of an exclusion – a breach of her agreement with Alberta Blue Cross and the Alberta Health Ministerial Order, according to the ACP.

The ACP report also stated Muresan failed to take appropriate steps to provide required records to Alberta Blue Cross when the pharmacy underwent a compliance verification review in 2019.

Greg Eberhart, the registrar of the ACP, said the level of allegations made against Muresan were serious enough to warrant an investigation from the regulator’s complaints director, which in turn led to the need for a tribunal hearing last fall.

“It’s certainly a part of our role as a regulator to respond to complaints that might arise from the public or organizations,” he said. “We take the responsibility very seriously. In this case, due to the significance of it, it resulted in a suspension as well as fines, so we have shared this with the public so they’re aware of our commitment to the public and working in their best interests.”

Reached for comment on Jan. 14, Muresan said the sanctions provided a learning opportunity. She added the lesson will adjust the way she does her job, but stressed her focus has always been, and will continue to be, her clients.

“It's really hard for me to say, because I'm not a lawyer, and obviously, this was the first time this has occurred,” she said. 

Despite the negative outcome of her tribunal hearing, Muresan said she has been touched by uplifting messages she's received from some of her customers since news of her punishment first came out.

“It was unbelievable to see the amount of support from all my clients,” she said. “I've been overwhelmed with care, love, and prayers from clients who I've maybe done one thing in the past five years for.”

Eberhart noted Muresan cooperated with the investigation throughout, and expressed remorse about her alleged misconduct.

“In fairness to the registrant, prior to appearing before the hearing tribunal, she was very cooperative and worked with the legal counsel for the college and her own legal counsel to agree to an agreed statement of facts,” he said. “I would say she did observe and admit the allegations were considered unethical, unprofessional, and therefore inappropriate.”

That being said, Eberhart added negligence or ignorance do not excuse the misconduct.

“There were some matters within the allegations she indicated she was unaware of, although she did have a professional responsibility in her role as the owner, proprietor, licensee and pharmacist at that pharmacy to be aware of her responsibilities, as they relate to contracts she entered in to,” he said. 

“She recognized those, and they were certainly discussed contextually within the panel, and considered to be serious.”

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