Ethics in the Patient-Pharmacist Relationship

Essay by jsteimlCollege, UndergraduateA+, September 2009

download word file, 6 pages 5.0

When dealing with any kind of healthcare, ethics in practice is an issue that frequently arises. In today's society, everything can be scrutinized and put under the microscope and this can be a cause of concern for healthcare professionals such as pharmacists. They are expected to do everything correctly without ever making mistakes and this can put an immense amount of pressure on them. Not only are they expected to practice perfectly, but also to relay information to patients in a professional manner. When it comes to the patient-pharmacist relationship, pharmacists are expected to maintain a certain ethical ground concerning confidentiality, generosity, and most importantly honesty.

Patients value their confidentiality when it comes to pharmacy related issues such as picking up prescriptions or speaking to the pharmacist. Some people take certain medications that they would not want the world to know about and keeping their privacy is one of the most important responsibilities of a pharmacist.

Pharmacists can face serious legal issues if they do not abide by the privacy regulations created by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, in 1996. In short, HIPAA requires that all covered entities develop and maintain privacy policies and procedures, train the workforce on policies and procedures, write policies that address mitigation of violations of the policies, write data safeguard policies to prevent intentional or unintentional use or disclosure of information, and establish procedures for handling complaints (Hasselkus and Lusis). Even with this act, patients still feel the need to worry about whether or not the pharmacist will abide by the regulations and truly keep their confidentiality exclusively between one another.

When speaking with a patient at the pharmacy, a pharmacist needs to be aware of their environment. The pharmacist must make sure they are speaking to only the patient...