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theBNFNovember 25 2015

A statement addressing the new-format British National Formulary, including concerns about the inclusion of dosing errors and the layout of information has been issued.

The BNF director Karen Baxter, along with the director of UK Medicines Information (UKMi) and the chair of the Neonatal and Paediatric Pharmacists Group, have issued the joint statement saying they “are aware of a number of discussions and email threads discussing BNF for Children 2015‐2016 and BNF 70.”

Topics that have been discussed include “the identification of a small number of dose errors”, along with changes in the presentation of the preparations and comments relating to the new format. The latest edition of the print version has been reformatted to reflect the changes made to the online version, which now has treatment summaries listed by body system or alphabetically.

The joint statement says that “the number of clinically important errors identified to date remains low and it is important to recognise that errors have been reported in prior editions of these publications. Some reports have been described as errors when in fact they are simply changes to the way content is represented.

“It is key to note that as with any edition, other errors may still remain to be identified. Cross checking with the updated electronic versions should be encouraged; this is particularly true for medicines less familiar to the practitioner.”

In addition, the joint statement said that comments on the format and presentation changes would be welcome, and that the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education has issued a programme to help aid understanding of the changes to the BNF publications.

“As with previous editions, bnf.org will be used as a central point for collating and reporting corrections to the BNF Publications, but we will be widening the reporting, to include a record of all of the feedback, including that about format changes.” Documents posted on bnf.org include corrections for BNF for Children 2015‐2016 and for BNF 70, “and also all known issues received by our groups.”

The BNF publications are published jointly by the British Medical Association and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. The RPS has issued two statements on the new format BNFs, highlighting changes made to the paper and digital versions.

For the digital version, “improvements” include:

  • a drug-centric and treatment-centric structure, delivering swifter searching, which should increase the likelihood of finding all the necessary information, from one drug result
  • a brand new left-hand floating navigation panel allowing the user to jump to any section on a monograph
  • digital object identifiers (DOIs) to make it easier to reference any monograph and keep a link to the content
  • a refreshed font and page layout makes the text clearer and easier to read.

For the paper version, the RPS said: “We recognise with previous editions of the BNF, knowledge of corrections to print editions was low. Therefore we are increasing the channels used to disseminate this information to users. This in itself may change perceptions about the number of corrections to the new BNF and BNF for Children versus previous editions. The number of corrections issued has not increased markedly, however we have increased the number of channels we use to communicate corrections.”

Links:

BNF/UKMi/NPPG statement

BNF publications

RPS announcement on digital BNF    

RPS statement on changes to BNF format

UKMi

NPPG

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