Does Pharmacy Insurance Cover Advice Given By Employees Other Than The Pharmacist?

Caeva O'Callaghan | September 3rd, 2021


Does pharmacy insurance cover advice from sales assistants?

Pharmacies dispensing wrong medicines or advice are bad enough – but would your pharmacy insurance cover your business if another employee was responsible?

No. However, pharmacy professional indemnity insurance would cover this situation as long as the advice or medicine came from a qualified pharmacist.

However, if an employee of yours gave advice they were not qualified to give, your insurance would not cover you if a claim was made.

In this article, we’ll cover the following questions:

  • What is professional indemnity insurance?
  • Does professional indemnity cover legal expenses?
  • What should I do if an employee of mine gives bad advice?

It is illegal to operate a pharmacy without professional indemnity insurance, so make sure you have cover in place before you open up shop

What is professional indemnity insurance?

Running a pharmacy comes with extra obligations to your customers, as you are dispensing important medication that will affect their health. Professional indemnity covers you for losses suffered by customers as a consequence of a pharmacist’s professional neglect, error or omission.

If you accidently dispense the wrong medication or the wrong dose and a customer takes an action against you, your professional indemnity policy will fund the defense of the case as well as any compensation awarded to your customer.

Note that it only covers you in the event of a professional pharmacist’s mistake, including locums. If another one of your employees, such as a sales assistant, gives out the wrong medicine or bad advice your insurance will not cover you.

If you have a standard pharmacy insurance policy, it will not cover professional indemnity as standard. In fact, most retail policies specifically exclude dispensing risk. Having a separate professional indemnity policy plugs up this gap and makes sure you’re operating safely.

Does professional indemnity cover legal expenses?

Yes. All of your legal expenses are covered as part of the professional indemnity section of your policy, as long as the person whom the claim is against is a qualified pharmacist or locum.

A pharmacist who is providing advice owes a duty of reasonable skill and care to their customers. If a pharmacist falls below this standard and causes a loss, they may be viewed as being negligent, which means they may be held liable for any subsequent losses incurred.

However, other members of staff at your pharmacy do not have the same responsibilities to your customers. Therefore it’s up to you to make sure they don’t give out medicines, and don’t give medical advice to anyone who visits your pharmacy.

In addition, you can purchase extra legal expenses cover, which will protect you for legal costs as a result of an action brought against you by an individual or institution which is not covered by your professional indemnity insurance. An example would be an unfair dismissal claim or appeal against a suspension by a statutory body. These could be considered ‘business’ as opposed to professional risks.

What should I do if an employee of mine gives bad advice?

An unqualified sales assistant dispensing unsound medical advice is a very serious problem. In a worst case scenario, it may even lead to loss of life.

If someone makes a claim against your pharmacy accusing you and your employees of this misconduct, you could lose your business and face serious legal repercussions.

How you manage your employees is up to you, but the best cure is always prevention. Make sure you stay up to date on current legislature regarding medicines, and ensure staff are properly trained on what they can dispense and what they cannot.

For example, a 2008 report by Which? surveyed a number of pharmacies to ensure they were operating within guidelines. But they discovered a particular problem with sales of the migraine drug Imigran Recovery, which used to be available only on prescription. It should now be overseen by a pharmacist and sold after the customer has answered a number of questions. However, in 40% of cases, sales assistants did not alert the pharmacist, and one in five sold it without asking a single question.

This would be the perfect scenario for a claim to be made, so pharmacies must stay vigilant to ensure their staff are properly trained. If you do not, you could lose your business and a lot more.

If you have any queries about pharmacy insurance, pick up the phone and talk to our insurance experts today. They can guide you through the best options for your business.

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All Information in this post is accurate as of the date of publishing.