Innovations-Magazine-May-2022 - 6

Emily Buss
Pharmacy Inspector, Virginia Department of Health Professions
How long have you been serving as
an inspector for the Board?
I have served six years as a pharmacy
inspector in the enforcement division
of the Virginia Department of Health
Professions. Prior to my role as an
inspector, I worked in the community
pharmacy setting for 13 years.
Virginia Board
of Pharmacy
Number of Board
8 pharmacist members
and 2 public members
Number of
11 (Seven pharmacy
assigned to inspect
pharmacies; four
inspectors assigned
to inspect other
facilities licensed by
the Board.)
Rules & Regulations
Established by
Board of Pharmacy
Number of
Pharmacist Licensees
Number of
Number of Wholesale
What tools or skills are a must-have
in a pharmacy inspector's toolkit?
New or challenging situations often arise,
so I think it is important for a pharmacy
inspector to be detailed, curious, and able to
analyze situations from multiple angles. By
remaining objective, I am able to apply the
law consistently during inspections.
As experienced during the coronavirus
disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic,
flexibility and the ability to adapt to new
technology are key tools for a pharmacy
inspector. Embracing technology allowed
the Virginia Department of Health
Professions to continue daily operations.
Our inspections team was able to adapt to
a virtual platform and continue performing
inspections, which was especially critical
for new facilities applying for a permit that
would increase access to patient care.
What are some common issues that
you have witnessed and addressed
as an inspector with the Board?
As pharmacies incorporate new technology
into practice, I have found that pharmacies
are not entirely compliant with the applicable
regulations. This issue became especially
common during the COVID-19 pandemic,
as more pharmacies sought ways to
incorporate remote processing, alternate
delivery, and innovative practices into their
workflow. For example, pharmacies did not
have all required elements of a policy and
procedure manual for remote processing.
While pharmacies are not intentionally
noncompliant in most of these scenarios,
it is still necessary to cite the deficiency, which
I present as an educational opportunity.
4 | MAY 2022
In Virginia, do inspectors also
conduct investigations for other
health regulatory boards?
In Virginia, pharmacy inspectors conduct
inspections and investigations mostly for
the Board of Pharmacy. At times, inspectors
may perform audits for other health
regulatory boards, such as mixing, diluting,
and reconstituting audits for the Virginia
Board of Medicine. Pharmacy inspectors
also provide consultation to investigators for
other regulatory board cases if a pharmacy
perspective is needed.
What is one of the most challenging
cases you have investigated?
During past investigations regarding
fraudulent pharmacy billing, I found it
concerning that pharmacy owners possibly
held other nonoperational pharmacy permits.
If the pharmacy lost an insurance contract
due to its billing practices, the owner seemed
to transfer operations to the other pharmacy
permit. Virginia has since incorporated a
regulation to allow the Board to rescind a
permit if the facility is not operational within
90 days from the date the permit is issued,
which has curtailed this practice.
What advice would you give to a
new board inspector?
Keep asking questions! The practice of
pharmacy is always changing, and inspectors
need to stay abreast of new items. Draw on
the diversity of backgrounds and experiences
within your internal inspections team. During
inspections, ask questions. I have found that
the same initiative or program rolled out across
a pharmacy chain is not always implemented
consistently among stores. At times, inspectors
must deliver difficult information to licensees,
such as monetary penalties, deficiencies, or
complaints. This information may cause a
licensee to display frustration or increased
stress. Do not take such reactions personally!
Portray a calm and professional demeanor,
remain objective, and apply the laws
consistently during inspections.


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Innovations-Magazine-May-2022

Innovations-Magazine-May-2022 - 1
Innovations-Magazine-May-2022 - 2
Innovations-Magazine-May-2022 - 3
Innovations-Magazine-May-2022 - 4
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Innovations-Magazine-May-2022 - 6
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Innovations-Magazine-May-2022 - 11
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