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a scales of justice imageFebruary 14 2018

The legislative changes designed to decriminalise dispensing errors could come into effect by April.

The Pharmacy (Preparation and Dispensing Errors – Registered Pharmacies) Order 2018 has been signed by the Privy Council, enabling the Government to introduce a commencement order which could mean the law could come into effect from April.

Following concerns about the potential for a charge of manslaughter being laid against a pharmacist if a patient died from a dispensing error, the Medicines Act 1968 is being modified to permit a defence. The key aspect is that a pharmacist or pharmacy technician should be seen to have taken reasonable steps to alert the patient after the dispensing error was discovered.

It is hoped that by decriminalising errors in this way, pharmacy teams will be more likely to report errors so that trends or risks can be identified and lessons learnt.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has welcomed this latest step in the legislative process. Ash Soni, RPS President, said: “MPs and Peers from across the political parties approved a change to the law in December, so I am pleased to see this step towards it being implemented. Fostering a culture where health professionals feel able to report errors and learn from their mistakes will support a safer and better service for patients.”

The legislative change only applies to community pharmacies, but calls have been made for similar provision to be made for pharmacists working in other settings, such as hospitals.

Mr Soni said: “I now look forward to the Government publishing the long-awaited consultation on similar proposals for hospitals and other pharmacy settings as soon as possible.”

Link:
RPS statement

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