Code of Conduct

Introduction

The SPCB Code of Conduct applies to each individual credentialed by the SPCB as a specialty pharmacist or related specialty pharmacy professional; and, each individual seeking certification from SPCB (candidates or applicants). In developing the SPCB Code of Conduct the Board reviewed many resources including the position statements published by a variety of pharmacy associations.

Specialty Pharmacists are responsible for maintaining medications that are often crucial for a patient’s life. CSP’s have an ethical obligation to serve their patients while advocating for their profession and managing pharmacy products and services in a fiscally responsible manner.

All applicants and certificants agree to the SPCB Code of Conduct (Code) as a condition of certification. Violation of any portion of the Code may result in disciplinary action as outlined in the Disciplinary Policy.

The Code of Conduct will be published and available to all applicants and certificants.

Purpose

The Code of Conduct establishes the basic ethical standards for the professional behavior of SPCB certificants and candidates. The Code is designed to provide both appropriate ethical practice guidelines and enforceable standards of conduct for all certificants and candidates.

Code of Conduct

The SPCB supports appropriate, professional standards designed to serve the public. SPCB certificants and candidates for certification provide specialty pharmacy services in a manner that promotes integrity and reflects positively on the profession, consistent with accepted moral, ethical, and legal standards.

Certificants and candidates have the obligations practice specialty pharmacy in a manner consistent with the certification standards and responsibilities set forth below. This includes the obligations to maintain and demonstrate high standards of integrity and professional conduct; accept responsibility for their actions; continually seek to enhance their professional capabilities; practice with fairness and honesty; and, encourage others to act in a professional manner.

      Section 1: Adherence to Legal Requirements

  1. Adhere to all laws, regulations, policies, and ethical standards that apply to the practice specialty pharmacy.
  2. Refrain from public behavior that is clearly in violation of professional, ethical, and/or legal standards that apply to the practice of providing specialty pharmacy services.
  3. Refrain from discrimination in professional activities, including relationships with employees, employers, patients, customers and their families, and other professionals.

     Section 2: Adherence to SPCB Policies & Requirements

  1. Follow all SPCB policies, procedures, requirements and rules. This includes the obligation to be aware of and understand these policies and requirements.
  2. Provide accurate and complete information to SPCB concerning certification and recertification.
  3. Keep confidential all examination information; including preventing unauthorized disclosures of exam information. No part of the examination may be copied, recorded, reproduced, shared, removed from the examination site or otherwise compromised in any manner.
  4. Cooperate with SPCB regarding matters related to the Code of Conduct including complaint and/or disciplinary investigations.
  5. Adhere to SPCB policies regarding the use and display of credentials awarded by the SPCB.

     Section 3: Service to Patients

  1. Promote the interest and safety of patients in all aspects of practice, including industry interactions.
  2. Treat patients with fairness and respect.
  3. Work within the healthcare team to ensure optimal drug therapy outcomes to improve patients’ quality of life.

     Section 4: Professional Performance

  1. Act honestly in the conduct of responsibilities and in all professional interactions with others.
  2. Deliver competent specialty pharmacy services.
  3. Be accountable and responsible for his/her actions and behaviors.
  4. Recognize the limitations of one’s professional ability (based on education, knowledge, skills, and experience) and provide services only when qualified to do so.
  5. Maintain the confidentiality of private and sensitive information, unless there is a legal obligation to disclose the information.
  6. Properly use all professional licenses, titles, degrees and all credentials and provide accurate and truthful information regarding education, experience, qualifications, and the performance of services.
  7. Disclose any conflicts of interest or potential conflicts of interest and avoid conduct that could cause a conflict of interest.
  8. Adhere to the guidelines established by your regulatory body and employer regarding soliciting or accepting industry gifts.
  9. Participate in industry-associated research only when that research meets accepted ethical, regulatory, and scientific standards.
  10. Contribute professionally as an author only in health care related publications that meet accepted ethical, regulatory, and scientific standards.
  11. Provide educational programs and materials with a fair and balanced presentation that meet guidelines as established by recognized accrediting bodies, are peer reviewed, and/or meet regulatory requirements.

Uphold high standards of professional behavior at all times in the specialty pharmacist and related   specialty pharmacy role.

Complaints and Disciplinary Policy

In order to maintain and enhance the credibility of the SPCB certification program the SPCB has adopted the following procedures to allow individuals to bring complaints concerning the conduct of individuals who are candidates or certificants of the SPCB.In the event an individual candidate or certificant violates the SPCB Code of Conduct, certification rules, or SPCB policies the SPCB Board of Directors may reprimand or suspend the individual or may revoke certification.

The grounds for sanctions under these procedures may include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  1. Violation of the SPCB Code of Conduct.
  2. Violation of established SPCB policies, rules and requirements.
  3. Conviction of a felony or other crime of moral turpitude under federal or state law in a matter related to the practice of, or qualifications for, employment support services.
  4. Failure to maintain professional licensure
  5. Gross negligence, willful misconduct, or other unethical conduct in the performance of services for which the individual has achieved certification from SPCB.
  6. Fraud or misrepresentation in an initial application or renewal application for certification.

Information regarding the complaint process will be available to the public via the SPCB web site or other published documents. A complete copy of this policy will be made available to any individual upon request.

Actions taken under this policy do not constitute enforcement of the law, although referral to appropriate federal, state, or local government agencies may be made about the conduct of the candidate or certificant in appropriate situations. Individuals initially bringing complaints are not entitled to any relief or damages by virtue of this process, although they will receive notice of the actions taken.

Complaints

Complaints may be submitted by any individual or entity. Complaints should be reported to SPCB in writing and should include the name of the person submitting the complaint, the name of the person the complaint is regarding along with other relevant identifying information, a detailed description of factual allegations supporting the charges, and any relevant supporting documentation. Information submitted during the complaint and investigation process is considered confidential and will be handled in accordance with SPCB’s Confidentiality policy. Inquiries or submissions other than complaints may be reviewed and handled by the SPCB or its staff members at its discretion.

Upon receipt and preliminary review of a complaint involving the certification program the SPCB Executive Director in consultation with the President of the Board of Directors may conclude, in their sole discretion, that the submission:

  1. contains unreliable or insufficient information, or
  2. is patently frivolous or inconsequential.

In such cases, the SPCB Executive Director and President may determine that the submission does not     constitute a valid and actionable complaint that would justify bringing it before the SPCB Board of Directors for investigation and a determination of whether there has been a violation of substantive requirements of the certification process. If so, the submission is disposed of by notice from the Executive Director and President to its submitter, if the submitter is identified. All such preliminary dispositions by the President are reported to the Board of Directors at its next meeting.

Preliminary review will be conducted within 30 calendar days of receipt of the complaint.

If a submission is deemed by the President to be a valid and actionable complaint, the President shall see that written notice is provided to the candidate/certificant whose conduct has been called into question. The candidate/certificant whose conduct is at issue shall also be given the opportunity to respond to the complaint. The President also shall ensure that the individual submitting the complaint receives notice that the complaint is being reviewed by the SPCB Board of Directors.

Complaint Review

For each compliant that the President concludes is a valid and actionable complaint, the SPCB authorizes an investigation into its specific facts or circumstances to whatever extent is necessary in order to clarify, expand, or corroborate the information provided by the submitter.

The President appoints a Review Committee of three or more individuals, who may or may not be members of the SPCB Board of Directors to investigate and make an appropriate determination with respect to each such valid and actionable complaint; the Review Committee may review one or more such complaints as determined by the President. The Review Committee initially determines whether it is appropriate to review the complaint under these Procedures or whether the matter should be referred to another entity engaged in the administration of law. The timeline for responses and for providing any additional information shall be established by the Review Committee. The review and investigation will be completed in an appropriate amount of time, not to exceed 6 months, unless there are extenuating circumstances that require an extended time period. The Review Committee may be assisted in the conduct of its investigation by other members of the SPCB or by SPCB staff or legal counsel. The President exercises general supervision over all investigations.

Both the individual submitting the complaint and the candidate/certificant who is the subject of the investigation (or his or her employer) may be contacted for additional information with respect to the complaint. The Review Committee, or the SPCB Board of Directors on its behalf, may at its discretion contact such other individuals who may have knowledge of the facts and circumstances surrounding the complaint.

All investigations and deliberations of the Review Committee and the SPCB are conducted in confidence, with all written communications sealed and marked “Personal and Confidential,” and they are conducted objectively, without any indication of prejudgment. An investigation may be directed toward any aspect of a complaint which is relevant or potentially relevant. Formal hearings are not held and the parties are not expected to be represented by counsel, although the Review Committee and SPCB may consult their own counsel.

Members of the Review Committee shall be reimbursed for reasonable expenses incurred in connection with the activities of the Committee.

Determination of Violation

Upon completion of an investigation, the Review Committee recommends whether the SPCB should make a determination that there has been a violation of SPCB policies and rules. When the Review Committee recommends that the SPCB Board of Directors find a violation, the Review Committee also recommends imposition of an appropriate sanction. If the Review Committee so recommends, a proposed determination with a proposed sanction is prepared under the supervision of the President and is presented by a representative of the Review Committee to the SPCB along with the record of the Review Committee’s investigation.

If the Review Committee recommends against a determination that a violation has occurred, the complaint is dismissed with notice to the candidate/certificant, the candidate/certificant’s employer, and the individual or entity who submitted the complaint; a summary report is also made to the SPCB Board of Directors.

The SPCB reviews the recommendation of the Review Committee based upon the record of the investigation. The SPCB may accept, reject, or modify the Review Committee’s recommendation, either with respect to the determination of a violation or the recommended sanction to be imposed. If the SPCB makes a determination that a violation has occurred, this determination and the imposition of a sanction are promulgated by written notice to the candidate/certificant, and to the individual submitting the complaint, if the submitter agrees in advance and in writing to maintain in confidence whatever portion of the information is not made public by the SPCB.

In certain circumstances, the SPCB may consider a recommendation from the Review Committee that the candidate/certificant who has violated the certification program policies or rules should be offered an opportunity to submit a written assurance that the conduct in question has been terminated and will not recur. The decision of the Review Committee to make such a recommendation and of the SPCB to accept it are within their respective discretionary powers. If such an offer is extended, the candidate/certificant at issue must submit the required written assurance within thirty days of receipt of the offer, and the assurance must be submitted in terms that are acceptable to the SPCB. If the SPCB accepts the assurance, notice is given to the candidate/certificant’s employer and to the submitter of the complaint, if the submitter agrees in advance and in writing to maintain the information in confidence.

Sanctions

Any of the following sanctions may be imposed by the SPCB upon a candidate/certificant whom the SPCB has determined to have violated the policies and rules of its certification program(s), although the sanction applied must reasonably relate to the nature and severity of the violation, focusing on reformation of the conduct of the member and deterrence of similar conduct by others:

  1. written reprimand to the candidate/certificant;
  2. suspension of the certificant for a designated period; or
  3. suspension of the candidate’s application eligibility for a designated period; or
  4. termination of the certificant’s certification from the SPCB; or
  5. termination of the candidate’s application eligibility for a designated period.

For sanctions that include suspension or termination, a summary of the final determination and the sanction with the candidate/certificant’s name and date is published by the SPCB. This information will be published only after any appeal has either been considered or the appeal period has passed.

Reprimand in the form of a written notice from the President normally is sent to a candidate/ certificant who has received his or her first substantiated complaint. Suspension normally is imposed on a candidate/certificant who has received two substantiated complaints. Termination normally is imposed on a candidate/certificant who has received two substantiated complaints within a two year period, or three or more substantiated complaints. The SPCB may at its discretion, however, impose any of the sanctions, if warranted, in specific cases.

Certificants who have been terminated shall have their certification revoked and may not be considered for SPCB certification in the future. If certification is revoked, any and all certificates or other materials requested by the SPCB must be returned promptly to the SPCB.

Appeal

Within thirty (30) days from receipt of notice of a determination by the SPCB that a candidate/ certificant violated the certification program policies and/or rules, the affected candidate/certificant may submit to the SPCB in writing a request for an appeal.

Upon receipt of a request for appeal, the President of the SPCB establishes an appellate body consisting of at least three, but not more than five, individuals. This Appeal Committee may review one or more appeals, upon request of the President. No current members of the Review Committee or the SPCB may serve on the Appeal Committee; further, no one with any personal involvement or conflict of interest may serve on the Appeal Committee. Members of the Appeal Committee may be reimbursed for reasonable expenses incurred in connection with the activities of the Committee.

The Appeal Committee may only review whether the determination by the SPCB of a violation of the certification program policies and/or rules was inappropriate because of:

  1. material errors of fact, or
  2. failure of the Review Committee or the SPCB to conform to published criteria, policies, or procedures.

Only facts and conditions up to and including the time of the SPCB’s determination as represented by facts known to the SPCB are considered during an appeal. The appeal shall not include a hearing or any similar trial-type proceeding. Legal counsel is not expected to participate in the appeal process, unless requested by the appellant and approved by the SPCB and the Appeal Committee. The SPCB and Appeal Committee may consult legal counsel.

The Appeal Committee conducts and completes the appeal within ninety days after receipt of the request for an appeal. Written appellate submissions and any reply submissions may be made by authorized representatives of the member and of the SPCB. Submissions are made according to whatever schedule is reasonably established by the Appeal Committee. The decision of the Appeal Committee either affirms or overrules the determination of the SPCB, but does not address a sanction imposed by the SPCB.

The Appeal Committee decision is binding upon the SPCB, the candidate/certificant who is subject to the termination, and all other persons.

Resignation

If a certificant who is the subject of a complaint voluntarily surrenders his or her SPCB certification at any time during the pendency of a complaint under these Procedures, the complaint is dismissed without any further action by the Review Committee, the SPCB, or an Appeal Committee established after an appeal. The entire record is sealed and the individual may not reapply for certification by the SPCB. However, the SPCB may authorize the President to communicate the fact and date of resignation, and the fact and general nature of the complaint which was pending at the time of the resignation, to or at the request of a government entity engaged in the administration of law. Similarly, in the event of such resignation, the certificant’s employer and the person or entity who submitted the complaint are notified of the fact and date of resignation and that SPCB has dismissed the complaint as a result.

Use of the CSP

The SPCB board is authorized to license the use of certification marks.

After receiving notification of certification, credentials may be used only as long as certification remains valid and in good standing. Individuals may not use the CSP, or any other credential awarded by SPCB, until they have received specific written notification that they have successfully completed all requirements, including passing the exam. Certificants must comply with all recertification requirements to maintain use of the credential. The certification mark may be used only as long as certification is valid, after which time certification may be renewed.

Certificants will receive a certificate that includes their name, credential awarded, and expiration date. The certificate may only be displayed during the time period for which the credential is valid. Certificates remain the property of SPCB and must be returned to SPCB upon request.

Certification is a non-transferable, revocable, limited, non-exclusive license to use the certification designation “CSP”, subject to compliance with the policies and procedures, as may be revised from time to time.

Except as permitted by this policy, any use or display of SPCB certification marks and/or logos without the prior written permission of the SPCB Executive Director is prohibited.

Education and training providers may not use the SPCB name, logos, or certification marks to state or imply any approval or endorsement by SPCB or any affiliation with SPCB.