Patient Relations Program
The Patient Relations Program enhances and promotes the therapeutic relationship between pharmacists/pharmacy technicians and patients. The College expects that pharmacists and pharmacy technicians will meet a high standard of behaviour and we regard any act of abuse or harassment of a patient as unacceptable. The Patient Relations Program provides resources, advice, training and support to prevent and deal with sexual abuse of patients.
Administered by the Patient Relations Committee, the Program helps patients understand what to expect when they visit a pharmacist (or pharmacy technician) and what to do if they feel they have not received appropriate care or have been sexually abused.
Both the Patient Relations Program and the Patient Relations Committee are requirements under the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (RHPA). The Committee’s primary responsibilities include monitoring the Patient Relations Program and administering the victim compensation fund. The Committee also works to encourage positive communications between pharmacists/pharmacy technicians and patients, with a view to continually improve the quality of the delivery of pharmaceutical care and services.
The measures for preventing and dealing with sexual abuse of patients include education, training and information for:
- Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians
- The public
- College Council and staff
Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians
Practitioners are required to act in the best interest of and advocate for the patient, observe the law, uphold the dignity and honour of the profession, and practice in accordance with ethical principles and their respective standard of practice.
The College provides a number of resources for practitioners on the topic of sexual abuse and appropriate communication with patients. The Guideline on Preventing Sexual Abuse and Harassment provides information on professional boundaries, patient relationships and prohibition on becoming sexually involved with a patient. The guideline was published alongside the Policy on Treating Self and Family Members, which clarifies that it is generally considered to be inappropriate and a conflict of interest for practitioners to provide care to themselves and/or closely related family members.
In addition, all pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, employers and facility operators have a mandatory obligation to report if they believe that a health professional has sexually abused a patient. The report is to be filed with the Registrar of the appropriate College and it must include the name of the person making the report, the name of the member who is the subject of the report, an explanation of the sexual abuse, and — with the consent of the patient or their agent — the name of the patient who may have been sexually abused. If no consent is given, the patient can remain anonymous but the report must still be made.
The College is committed to being open and transparent about our regulatory processes, decisions and programs. A number of resources on our website have information that is geared toward helping the public understand what to expect when they visit their pharmacy and the people in their pharmacy. The College thoroughly investigates all reports or complaints of sexual abuse and treats these matters seriously. For victims of sexual abuse, the Patient Relations Committee administers funding for therapy and counselling.
Council and Staff
The College believes in leadership by example. As such, all Council and staff members participate in training to encourage effective and respectful communication. Every five years all Council and staff members take part in training on Cultural Diversity that promotes more effective use of verbal and written communication and teaches participants how to pick up on physical and non-physical cues. This includes the use of appropriate sensitive language when communicating with a who is patient raising concerns about sexual abuse. The training helps Council and staff members to manage situations where there is potential for misunderstanding and conflict.