Proposed Revision of the Code of Ethics
The College is currently seeking feedback on significant revisions to the profession’s Code of Ethics.
The last substantial update to the Code happened 20 years ago, and a lot has changed since then. Pharmacy practice has evolved significantly over the past two decades. In recent years there have been a number of important changes that have influenced the current revision of the Code of Ethics. As pharmacists become more involved in the provision of clinical services and decision-making, there is a heightened importance to clearly communicate their ethical responsibilities. As well, along with the introduction and integration of pharmacy technicians into practice, comes the need to clearly define the ethical responsibilities of this class of practitioners. As such, the Code of Ethics for pharmacy professionals requires updating so that it more appropriately addresses current practice and clearly establishes the standards of ethical conduct for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in Ontario, regardless of their practice setting.
The proposed draft of the Code of Ethics is a comprehensive document that outlines the core ethical principles that dictate a healthcare professional’s ethical duty to patients and society. The document supports these principles with standards that indicate how a practitioner is expected to fulfil their ethical responsibilities.
The growing pressures of an overstretched healthcare system, combined with an aging population have resulted in evolving expectations from government and the public, for all healthcare professionals.
In September 2014, Council established a task force to review and update the Code of Ethics. The task force engaged the expertise of a professional ethicist, and reviewed and compared Codes of Ethics from pharmacy regulatory bodies across Canada, the United States, Australia and Great Britain. They also held focus groups with key stakeholders from a variety of practice settings and perspectives, including practising community and hospital pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, corporate pharmacy managers, academic program leaders and pharmacy organization representatives.
Read more about the development process on the Code of Ethics Key Initiative page.
Points to Consider
The creation of a more comprehensive Code is consistent with the evolution of Codes across Canada and internationally in recent years. It’s important to note that practitioners are still expected to practise to the same ethical standards and that practice expectations are unchanged. The expectations in the proposed Code align with those found in relevant legislation, Standards of Practice, and College policies and guidelines. The main difference is that expectations are stated more clearly. It’s also important to note that a profession’s Code of Ethics, Standards of Practice and legislation – although companion documents that should not be read or applied in isolation of the other(s) – will contain duplication, as some requirements are both ethical and legal.