Pharmacist operated from 'unhygienic' shop

Wed, Sep 26, 2012, 01:00

A PHARMACIST who filled expired prescriptions for patients and had “unhygienic” premises has been found guilty of poor professional performance by a Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland fitness to practise inquiry.

Lorna Mullins of Mullins Pharmacy, Main Street, Charleville, Co Cork, had 10 findings of poor professional performance against her yesterday, including for issuing drugs to a customer with a prescription that was expired by “up to 11 months” in one case and which involved controlled drugs in other cases.

Ms Mullins failed to provide a separate room for private consultations, a requirement since 2010. She also failed to maintain appropriate standards of hygiene and failed to adequately maintain prescription and controlled drugs registers, said Aillil O’Reilly, for the Pharmaceutical Society.

Ruth McDonnell, an inspector with the society who visited the premises in August 2011, said the carpet-tile flooring and shelves were “dirty, grubby” and “unhygienic”. A room to the rear of the dispensing area, used for lunch breaks and to store the medicines fridge, had mouldy and mildewed walls and was damp, dirty and musty.

In two floors above the pharmacy, medical devices and other equipment were stored in damp and dirty conditions. Empty tablet vials used to dispense unpacked tablets to customers were stored in open boxes and Ms McDonnell described how a window sill nearby contained dead insects.

She emphasised the importance of accurate drugs registers. She said records for one day showed 10 morphine sulphate vials, a controlled substance, but the following day the balance was zero.

There was no record of the drug having been supplied or, if it was out of date, having been destroyed in the presence of a garda or authorised officer, as is required by misuse of drugs regulations.

A tearful Ms Mullins told the inquiry she deeply regretted what had happened. “I understand I was not up to standard and I am up to standard now.”

She had intended to renovate the pharmacy before the inspection and the work had since been carried out, bringing the pharmacy up to standard.

Her solicitor, Cliona Kelly, said there was no evidence any patient had suffered as a consequence.

Chairman of the inquiry committee Ronan Quirke said some of the findings of poor professional performance were “at the upper end of the scale”. The committee recommended that Ms Mullins be censured and have conditions attached to her registration.

These would include that she be disqualified from acting as a superintendent pharmacist at her practice for 12 months.

The committee’s report will go to the society’s council for approval before an application is made to the High Court to confirm censure or registration conditions.