'Don't prosecute poor dispensing'

The Dispensing Doctors' Association (DDA) has backed calls to decriminalise one-off dispensing mistakes, after a pharmacist received a suspended jail term.

Elizabeth Lee received a three-month sentence, suspended for 18 months, for dispensing beta-blockers instead of steroids to a 72-year-old.

The patient died three days later, although a judge ruled long-term illness was responsible for his death, not Ms Lee.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain believes dispensing errors by pharmacists are not criminal offences and called for them to be dealt with by the society in its capa-city as regulator.

DDA chairman Dr David Baker said the case meant dispensing GPs could face similar criminal charges for mistakes.

'A mistake could be made by any dispenser. It should not happen, but I don't think it should be a criminal offence,' he said.

tom.ireland@haymarket.com

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