One of ACP’s core responsibilities is to resolve complaints about pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and licensed pharmacies in Alberta. While most Albertans have positive experiences with their pharmacy teams, there are times when concern is raised by members of the public and by regulated health professionals.
ACP takes an education-based approach when resolving concerns, with an emphasis on ensuring excellent pharmacy practice through quality improvement. However, in some instances, remedial or disciplinary action is necessary. The Health Professions Act grants ACP the authority to enforce ethical conduct and standards of practice to protect the public’s health and well-being. ACP makes every effort to resolve complaints in a timely, thorough, and fair way, while remaining transparent in our processes and accountable to the public.
Concerns brought forward to ACP are broken down into two categories:
- Issues of public concern – issues that are resolved by ACP through a customer service approach.
- Formal complaints – more serious complaints that are formally investigated by the complaints director.
In 2017, the average number of days to resolve formal complaints by the complaints director was 19 days, down from 36 days in 2016. This resulted from several formal complaints being resolved in fewer than seven days, accommodated through the cooperation of respondents who promptly complied with the requirements.
More concerns were resolved through a direct, responsive, and informal process. This process involves ACP’s Complaints Department staff speaking with both the complainant and then the respondent, providing information, education, reference to applicable standards and/or guidelines, and then assisting the parties to resolve the concern between themselves.
The number of issues of public concern increased in 2017, as did issues where the complainant was a pharmacist or other health care professional, and not a member of the public.
There were no applications received requesting a review of a decision of the complaints director by the Complaints Resolution Committee. And there were no requests for review of processes or decisions arising from ACP’s complaints resolution program to ACP Council, the Courts, the Ombudsman, the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, or the Human Rights Commission.
Transparency in the process
All hearing notices and information about hearings were posted on the ACP website. All hearings heard by a hearing tribunal were open to the public, except for portions of two hearings when personal health information was discussed. Hearing decisions and orders are posted for 10 years on the ACP website (abpharmacy.ca) under Resource Centre>Complaints>Hearing Decisions.
In 2017, the complaints director did not have grounds to conclude that any registrants were incapacitated, requiring a direction to cease providing professional services and to be assessed.*
*Section 118 of the Health Professions Act states that if a complaints director has grounds to believe that a regulated member is incapacitated, whether or not a complaint has been made, the complaints director may direct the regulated member to submit to specified physical or mental examinations and to cease providing professional services until such time as the capacity assessment report is received and the complaints director is satisfied the regulated member is no longer incapacitated.