Public Support for Decriminalisation of Dispensing Errors

Patients and the public support the decriminalisation dispensing errors. The partners' forum (comprising of pharmacy groups, patients and the public), set up to support the rebalancing programme met on 01/10/13. They agreed with an exemption from criminal sanctions for inadvertent errors.

Sat 12th October 2013 The PDA

The Pharmaceutical Journal has reported that patients and the public support the decriminalisation of inadvertent errors:

Since the harrowing Elizabeth Lee case the PDA has staunchly been campaigning for the decriminalisation of dispensing errors to ensure no other pharmacists are prosecuted for making a genuine mistake.

The Government is now undertaking the process of rebalancing medicines and pharmacy legislation and has set up a programme board chaired by Ken Jarrold. The aim is to review relevant pharmacy legislation and regulation to ensure it:

  • Provides safety for users of pharmacy services
  • Reduces any unnecessary legislation
  • Allows innovation and development of pharmacy practice

Decriminalisation of dispensing errors is part of this rebalancing process and imperative to all of us working in the pharmacy profession. We have seen the opportunities within the recent Scottish Pharmacy Review and how it links with key aspects of the PDA Roadmap proposals. However, for us to move into new clinical roles and have less involvement in the technical aspects of the dispensary process; we need to be assured we are not liable to be prosecuted for genuine errors. Decriminalisation of dispensing errors is also a key element to developing a culture where we are comfortable in reporting errors and learning from them to improve practice and processes.

On the 1st October 2013 the partners’ forum (which comprises a cross-section of pharmacy groups, patients and the public) had its first meeting. The forum has been set up to support the rebalancing programme board. The partners’ forum were supportive of the key aim of continuous improvement in the quality of pharmacy services and increased safety for patients and users. There was overall agreement from participants for an exemption from criminal sanction for inadvertent errors, where certain conditions applied. They agreed that this would be an important step to removing a barrier to reporting and learning from dispensing errors. The next meeting of the Partners’ Forum will take place in early December 2013.

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