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Public supports dispensing errors decriminalisation

By News team

Patients and the public support the decriminalisation of inadvertent dispensing errors made by pharmacists and registered technicians, and recognise that the issue needs to be addressed as a priority.

This was one of the outcomes of the first meeting of the partners’ forum, which comprises a cross-section of pharmacy groups, patients and the public, and was set up to support the work of the rebalancing medicines legislation and pharmacy regulation programme board.

There was overall agreement from participants to the rebalancing board’s approach of an exemption from criminal sanction for inadvertent errors, where certain conditions applied. However, participants were clear that effective communications would be key to successful implementation of any change. They also stressed the importance of sharing learning from greater reporting of dispensing errors, according to a statement released following the meeting last week (1 October 2013).

Questions were raised at the meeting about the importance of finding a solution for dealing with dispensing errors made in hospital pharmacies and clarification was sought about notifying patients when an error had been made.

After the meeting, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society sought to reassure hospital pharmacists that the rebalancing programme board recognises further work is needed to “ensure that a means is found of exempting all hospital pharmacists from this criminal offence, irrespective of whether or not they work in registered hospital pharmacies”.

Chairman of the rebalancing programme board Ken Jarrold said: “I am very pleased that the partners’ forum was broadly supportive of the approach to tackling the criminal sanctions for dispensing errors.

“Like the board, participants were strongly committed to the ultimate aim of continuous improvement in the quality of pharmacy services and increased safety for patients and users. They were confident that the move away from criminal sanction towards professional regulation would be an important first step, removing a significant barrier to greater error reporting and learning from those errors.”

He added that delivering the change will not be down to Government and the regulators alone. “A concerted effort by everyone involved in pharmacy, working together, will be needed to embed the necessary culture change,” he said.

The outcomes from the partners’ forum will be reported to the programme board at its next meeting on 29 October 2013. The next meeting of the Partners’ Forum will take place in early December 2013.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2013.11128219

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