Pharmacy Ethics and the Law

By Baker, Kenneth R | Drug Topics, November 1, 1999 | Go to article overview

Pharmacy Ethics and the Law


Baker, Kenneth R, Drug Topics


Goal

To study ethical and legal issues in the practice of pharmacy today, looking at the relationship of law and ethics, and the underlying principles of ethical decision making.

Objectives

1. Define the meaning of ethics as applied to pharmacy.

2. Discuss ethical virtues applicable to pharmacy practice today.

3. Describe the relationship of law to ethics.

4. Recognize the principles of ethics in pharmacy.

5. React to ethical situations, critically studying proposed answers.

6. Discuss how the legal answer and the ethical answer in a given situation may differ.

Introduction

For a decade, when the Gallup polling organization asked a representative sample of the American public to rate the ethics of various professionals, pharmacists have ranked number one. Over the years, pharmacists have taken an understandable amount of pride in these results. However, being considered the most honest and ethical profession in America carries with it responsibility to measure up to this public expectation.

While it has never been easy to constantly live up to the label of "the most ethical professional," for today's pharmacists, living in a rapidly changing profession, with new rules, duties and responsibilities, the role is becoming even more difficult. In years past, the rules under which pharmacists practiced, while never simple or easy, were clear and definite, and ethical choices to be made in the daily practice for the professional were limited.

When the pharmacist's primary function was the distribution and compounding of drugs, the main duty was to follow the law. The pharmacist was to use only approved, pure ingredients and to fill the physician's orders accurately Interaction with the patient was limited to that of a retailer. The pharmacist had little information about the patient's condition above that which could be gleaned from the prescription itself. Patient expectation was also limited. In these simpler, less demanding times, the pharmacists knew what was expected and, in spite of temptations in the form of profits from illegal distribution of controlled substances, the vast majority of pharmacists abided by the rules.

Today, the roles, duties and responsibilities placed upon pharmacists have changed along with the expectations of the public. While dispensing, compounding, and drug distribution continue to be an important part of pharmacy, today the pharmacist also has the legal and ethical duty to counsel patients, perform a prospective drug review, and intercede with the prescriber and/or the patient when pharmacy-related questions arise.

Pharmacists have more pertinent contact with the patient and with other health care providers. Greater access to information concerning the patient's medical condition, including information given by the patient through counseling, has caused a greater awareness of confidentiality issues. Possessing, or having the ability to possess, more information, combined with a duty to use the information for the patient's benefit, also places the pharmacist in a position to make dynamic decisions. Many of these decisions rest upon the concept of ethics.

Ethics is seldom as simple as right versus wrong. When the decisions are controlled by law, the decision, while not always easy, is usually clear. The law must be followed. The question is, "What does the law allow?" In the bygone days of "fill the prescription as ordered by the doctor," the rules were written in black-and-white terms. Today, many of the rules are not written. When does the pharmacist counsel, and are there times he or she benefits the patient more by remaining silent or vague? There are many such questions in the area of today's pharmacy practice and ethics.

This article will explore ethical and legal aspects of pharmacy practice for today's pharmacist. Purposefully, this article will give fewer answers than questions. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Pharmacy Ethics and the Law
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.