'Unethical' Edmonton pharmacist suspended 3 years, must pay $142,000

An Edmonton pharmacist deemed dishonest, unethical and harmful to the integrity of the profession has been ordered to pay $142,000 in fines and payments, and suspended from practising for three years.

Basel Alsaadi was sanctioned by the Alberta College of Pharmacy after a tribunal earlier this year found him guilty of unprofessional conduct.

Alsaadi “accessed and used patients’ health information without an authorized purpose, failed to create records of care, and failed to cooperate with the investigators and the complaints process by, in part, attempting to obtain false evidence and coerce a witness,” the college said in a news release Thursday. 

“Alsaadi … was dishonest, was unethical and harmed the integrity of the profession.”

Alsaadi’s case dates back to October 2014, when the privacy commissioner’s office received a breach report from Covenant Health, where Alsaadi had been employed.

Alsaadi accessed demographic information, diagnostic images, laboratory results and other health information of 104 patients with whom he had no formal patient-pharmacist relationship.

In 2017, Alsaadi was sentenced in Edmonton Court of Queen’s Bench to three months of house arrest for accessing health information in contravention of the Health Information Act.

The hearing tribunal issued its decision in May. In its release Thursday, the college said Alsaadi’s breach “brings disrepute to the profession and harms the ability for the profession to self-regulate.” 

“What was particularly concerning was Mr. Alsaadi’s lack of understanding of the privilege of access to health information and his duties with respect to access during the findings hearing.”

Alsaadi has not had an active practice permit with the college since June 2017.

The hearing tribunal ordered Alsaadi to pay fines totalling $22,000, and a payment of $120,000 toward the costs of the investigation and hearing.

To be reinstated, he must complete a course on ethics and boundaries, disclose the tribunal’s decision to any employer or place of employment.

Upon reinstatement, Alsaadi will be required to practise under direct supervision for 500 hours followed by indirect supervision for 500 hours.

He is also prohibited from running a pharmacy for five years following the end of his suspension.

In June, Alsaadi made application to appeal the decisions of the hearing tribunal. At the same time, he applied to stay all of the hearing tribunal’s orders on sanctions.

The same month, a panel appointed by the college decided that all sanctions ordered by the hearing tribunal would remain in force, “and only the order to start paying the fine and costs be stayed,” Thursday’s news release said.

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