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Patient safety

Pharmacy staff are less concerned about prosecution when reporting patient safety incidents

Only 14% of pharmacy professionals are worried about criminal prosecution when reporting a patient safety incident, compared with 40% in 2016, survey results have showed.

The results of the 2019 ‘Patient safety culture survey’ of 917 pharmacy professionals, carried out by the Community Pharmacy Patient Safety Group (PSG) in April and May 2019 came after the introduction of a legal defence for dispensing errors in 2018.

The survey also showed that 22% of pharmacy professionals would not report a patient safety incident inside their organisation owing to fears of criminal prosecution. This is compared with 40% of 623 respondents saying in 2016 that they would not report a patient safety incident because of the possibility of criminal prosecution.

A report on the survey, published on 18 December 2019, said: “This reduction in fear of criminal prosecution could be attributed to the new legal defence for dispensing errors which came into law in April 2018.”

The legal defence against inadvertent dispensing errors aims to increase patient safety by reducing the fear of criminal prosecution among pharmacists for honest errors.

Nearly three-quarters (71%) of respondents said that they receive helpful feedback after reporting incidents, compared with 55% in 2016.

However, 40% of respondents said receiving better feedback would encourage them to report more patient safety incidents.

Janice Perkins, chair of the PSG, said the results “demonstrate that there have been significant positive improvements since 2016”.

“Nurturing an open and honest safety culture in community pharmacies is vital. It requires everyone to feel confident in openly sharing when things go wrong to learn from errors and prevent them occurring again,” she added.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20207494

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