Alcohol results 7


Later the same week our pharmacist comes to you and again seeks to confide in you. This time she reveals that she drank alcohol whilst at work a few weeks ago. She consumed it at 17.30. The pharmacy shuts at 18.00. She assures you that she did not dispense any prescriptions during that time. She explained that evenings are her difficult time and that night she just could not wait until she got home.


She asks you for help but has asked you not to tell anyone.


How would you react to this situation? In your answer, you might want to consider if you would report our pharmacist and to whom. How important is patient and/or colleague confidentiality here given the circumstances?


“This needs reporting.”


“I would offer support once again but point out that if a script had been dispensed there could have been an error and inform the pharmacist I was going to report it to the employer.”


“She should be reported to the GPHC, the Pharmacy Owner and the Police as she probably drives home that same night under the influence.”


“Even though she didn’t actually dispense or check any medication the fact that she consumed alcohol whilst at work would be a breach of her contract. I would have to discuss the matter with HR and the superintendent as this could possibly put lives at risk and damage the pharmacy.”


“This is now a Superintendent issue.”


“As I said before, patient safety is paramount, and although the pharmacist has asked for no-one else to know, my own professional responsibilities mean that I have a duty of care to patients. Furthermore, although she identifies a problem, she seems to lack insight into the risks associated with this.”


“Explain to the pharmacist that this is something I can’t keep to myself as it impacts everyone working at the pharmacy and the welfare of patients, therefore, I can’t keep it between us as they need to get help.”


“I would be very concerned by this behaviour and I would talk to her about how she is going to ensure this doesn’t happen again. If her answer is not satisfactory, I would approach her employer first. I would also tell the pharmacist that I was going to approach the employer, out of concern for her. She may be upset at the time but I think it is better, to be honest, and explain why. In my experience, people then don’t feel betrayed as they would have if you had agreed to keep the secret.”


“Confidentiality is important but so is patient safety, and pharmacist safety. It was previously mentioned that she drives to work…what about the safety of other road users and pedestrians?”


“She needs to talk to her manager at this stage as it has impacted her work. Even though she didn’t dispense whilst drinking she needs to talk to her manager about this problem. I would highly recommend that to her and get her to herself talk to someone at work who can help her. Privacy and confidentiality are really important as you don’t want to impact the pharmacists right to privacy as a patient and also you don’t want the employees dispensing under the influence of alcohol.”


“As I am an employer I would be taking action. I would be supporting her and helping her as much as possible. I would be explaining that it could never happen again and if it did I would have to take the matter further.”


“With this news I would go to her line manager, having previously not done so. I probably wouldn’t tell her as I think this could cause unnecessary stress. This lady now obviously needs intervention to reduce her drinking. I suspect she would be suspended/forced to go off sick until reassurances could be made this wouldn’t happen again.”


“This has directly put patients at risk, given she could not possibly have known whether or not she would be serving customers in that last 30minutes. This should be reported to the employer, professional council and taken before the tribunal.”


“Report to the employer. We are not able to trust that she didn’t drink too much to be able to work safely. She may have been required to dispense/check prescriptions or talk with patients. Patient safety is more important in this scenario than her confidentiality.”


“Now it is more serious – that is dangerous to patients and herself if she is driving etc. Now she must seal help and potentially time off and I would mention that she must tell her boss or I would have to.”


“Report it to her line manager, patient safety trumps confidentiality.”


“Drinking at work is not on. Maintain confidentiality but also firmly state that she needs to get help as or you will be required to notify the Pharmacy Board.”


“Again she needs help – this is totally unacceptable and is sacking offence.”


“Consumption of alcohol on work premises as a pharmacist should be strictly prohibited, and whilst no harm may have arisen in this situation this could be a potential major issue if similar incidents occur in the future which affects patient care.”


“This lady is ill and needs support. Getting her to admit this might be a problem! Confidentiality is of the utmost importance and needs to be led by the person herself.”


“As the pharmacist has to drive home after the pharmacy closes, she could be unfit to drive. I would advise her the situation now appears to be getting out of hand and to take urgent actions. I could not agree to respect the confidentiality if others could be put at risk – including other road users.”




“This is a big deal, and despite her assertions that she didn’t dispense any scripts, it’s not OK. Plus her version of a “drink” has been shown to be quite a lot more than would normally be expected when someone was talking about a single drink.
Patient safety should be our concern here, and the pharmacist’s judgement is obviously questionable, and she is making excuses to enable herself. It was 17:30 this time, but what about next time? 16:00? 14:00? 12:00?? What if she has a bad hangover and decides to have a bit of a drink before work to take the edge off? It would be advisable to get her to speak to pharmacy support. The PDA may be able to provide advice. I think the first point of contact to report the pharmacist should be their line manager, followed by the Superintendent and GPhC – as her fitness to practice is very questionable.”


“I feel like she has breached the trust of patients and her colleagues. This is no longer a confidential matter. She would be reported.”


“I would agree to help but tell her that I would maintain confidentiality as much as possible but would need to tell employer because of the impact on their registration.”


“She has reported in confidence so if she follows through and gets help then no need to report but she needs to be encouraged to consider her own fitness to practise.”


“I would maybe contact GPhC for advice. Or Pharmacist Support.”


“Stress that drinking alcohol at work is not acceptable whether she dispensed prescriptions or not, outline the consequences (drink driving etc) and that she really needs to get help or risks being reported.”


“Report to her line manager.”


“GPHC – this is now putting patients at risk.”


“This is getting out of control now and could be a risk to patient safety. It is unreasonable of her to expect you to keep it to yourself and she definitely needs help. I don’t think you would have any choice but to report her to her employer.”


“I think that these are acceptable grounds to break confidentiality as by drinking at work she is putting members of the public at risk of harm. I would report her to the GPhC.”


“Not acceptable I would advise her to tell management and explain her stresses. I think she would benefit from time off and help more than more stress and disciplinary although if she didn’t say I think I would have to go further and report it.”


“Not acceptable I would advise her to tell management and explain her stresses. I think she would benefit from time off and help more than more stress and disciplinary although if she didn’t say I think I would have to go further and report it.”


“I would be obligated at this point to report her to not only the employer but the GPhC. This is not acceptable and puts patients in danger despite what she thinks. I would inform her of what I was going to do and explain I had no choice.”


“Reassure pharmacist that’s it’s good she’s admitted a problem. Explain that I need to tell the manager. Encourage pharmacist to see GP/get signed off work.”


“You cannot help by keeping this secret.”


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