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dispenseing-300x286November 26 2014

An audit of pharmacy dispensing suggests reportable dispensing error incidents occur on average 1.44 times per 10,000 items dispensed.

The study involved 6,415 community pharmacies from nine of the ten largest pharmacy multiples supplying anonymised data. Over 200 pharmacies did not report a single error over the 12 month study period, and more than 1,200 reported less than four incidents per for every 100,000 items dispensed.

Pharmacy Voice, which commissioned the research, says the data “means that over 99.9% of items are dispensed without an error” and that it “confirms that pharmacy teams across the UK are safely and efficiently supplying over a billion prescription items each year with high levels of accuracy.”

It is calling for greater collaboration between manufacturers and the community pharmacy sector on packaging design to further improve patient safety.

Chief executive of Pharmacy Voice Rob Darracott said: “The results of our audit confirm the commitment all community pharmacy teams have to patient safety, which is reflected in the very low levels of dispensing incidents.

“Fostering an open culture about dispensing incidents will allow us to identify areas of risk and share learning about how we can minimise this risk. We would like to see more action from manufacturers to avoid similar packaging and help pharmacy teams do their jobs efficient and safely.”

Deborah Vaughan at the generic medicines manufacturer Teva UK commented: “At Teva we are committed to supporting the dispensing and taking of our medicines. One way we can do this is through developing patient and pharmacy-centred packaging.

“A lot of work has already gone into the design of our existing Teva 360 packaging and this has been recognised by the industry through the awards it has won. However, we continue to try to make progress in this important area using the feedback from both pharmacy and patients.”

Teva UK has explored the principles of optimum packaging design with community pharmacy teams and patients to explore ways of evolving their 360 packaging to help patient adherence and support the dispensing process.

“Key findings from discussions with pharmacy teams are that clarity, (through bold fonts, clear colour schemes and easy to read expiry dates) and differentiation between similar drug names were of most importance when considering packaging design.

“Patients said that packaging must be easy to read and different drugs and strengths should be differentiated by colour.”

A separate report from HSCIC on NHS Outcomes Framework Indicators includes patient safety and medication errors. The incidence of medication errors causing serious harm has increased slightly since September 2013, and is just below 0.35 incidents per 100,000 population.

Links:

Pharmacy Voice statement

HSCIC ‘NHS Outcomes Framework: November 2014 publication’

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