At times we are told as pharmacists to use “professional judgment”. At what point does “professional judgment” become failure to abide by regulations or standards and possibly “professional misconduct”?
This is an excellent question, and unfortunately one for which there is no clear-cut answer. As pharmacists we make hundreds of professional judgment calls every week. These judgment calls are usually decided after consideration of a number of factors that include the actual wording of regulations or standards, the spirit of those regulations or standards, our past experiences, our knowledge of this specific patient and their health history, and ultimately “the best interests of the patient”. It is important to note, however, that “the best interests of the patient” is not necessarily synonymous with what is most convenient, or easiest, or most inexpensive for the patient, or that the patient’s wishes must be accommodated regardless of all other factors. To quote advice given by the Ontario College of Pharmacists in response to a similar question, “When making a decision based on professional judgment, you are sure to be on solid ground if your decision is one that any reasonable pharm
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