Pharmacists' perceived responsibility for patient care when there is a risk of misadventure: a qualitative study


Objective. To investigate how community pharmacists view their responsibility for patient care in a scenario involving opioid use with significant risk of toxic- ity or misadventure. Methods. A case scenario was developed based on an Australian coronial inquiry involving a patient suffering fatal toxicity following misuse of opioids. Community pharmacists working in Brisbane, Queensland, were invited to take part in face-to-face semi-structured interviews at their place of work. Participants were asked how they would respond to the scenario in practice and their perceived responsibilities. Key findings. Twenty-one pharmacists were interviewed. Participants identified similar actions in response to the case, and potential barriers and enablers. Participants differed with regard to how they described their perceived scope of practice and degree of responsibility in response to the case. Most participants described their scope of practice in terms of medication management with a focus on patient outcomes. Some participants described a narrower scope of practice that focused on either medicine supply or legal aspects. Participants who described a medication management focus differed in their views regarding their responsibility for patient outcomes in the case. Conclusion. Pharmacists in this study varied in terms of their perceived scope of practice and responsibility to patient outcomes in response to a case involving a patient at risk of opioid-related harm. Further work on pharmacist responsibility may reduce this variability.

International Journal of Pharmacy Practice