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Analyzing your QRE data and taking the necessary steps to prevent medication errors are only two parts of a robust safety and quality program. When the error reaches a patient, there are usually additional considerations to ethically manage the event. At a fundamental level, ethical principles support the optimal culture of safety that all pharmacies strive for. These include respect for patient autonomy, truthfulness, fidelity, beneficence, and non-maleficence. A broader discussion of each of these is beyond the scope of this article; however, many references are available online for further study. Knowing the ethical principles is a starting point for all pharmacists and technicians. Ethical behaviors are the application of these principles.
The following hypothetical case study involves a medication error that reached the patient. After reviewing the details of the case, readers are asked to click on the Survey Monkey link at the right to select how you would handle this in your pharmacy. Answers are anonymous. Aggregate responses and expert commentary will be reported to you in a future newsletter. Readers are also encouraged to discuss this case in your QA meetings and discuss the readiness of your employees to know and act in an ethical manner.