Dispensing error rules out of date, MPs warn

The laws surrounding dispensing errors are out of date and not in the best interests of patient safety, MPs have said.

The All-Party Pharmacy Group is calling on the DoH to move quickly to implement changes to the way such errors are treated. The call follows a recent case, in which a community pharmacist was given a suspended prison sentence after reporting a single, genuine error.

Experts have said the case has implications for all healthcare professionals, even those who are not directly involved in dispensing.

‘A regime that strikes fear into pharmacists and discourages them from reporting errors is bad for patients and for the profession,’ said Dr Howard Stoate, a GP and MP for Dartford, Kent. ‘We have agreement on what’s needed. Now we must see swift moves to make the changes we agreed.’

The agreed changes will see the Medicines Act reformed to remove the prospect of criminal conviction following genuine mistakes. Until that can be done, the Crown Prosecution Service has been asked to follow a protocol whereby pharmacists are not prosecuted for errors.

The group has written to health minister Mike O'Brien to call for these changes to be put in place immediately.

‘This issue is too important for weeks and months to slip by without any progress,’ added Dr Stoate.

jonn.elledge@haymarket.com

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