Dispensing errors defence approved by Parliament

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Dispensing errors defence approved by Parliament

Parliament has approved legislation that protects pharmacists from prosecution for inadvertent dispensing errors, with MPs passing the long-awaited measure unanimously. 

The Pharmacy (Preparation and Dispensing Errors – Registered Pharmacies) Order 2018 is now expected to come into effect next year, having been passed by MPs and a final House of Lords committee. The UK-wide measure applies to inadvertent preparation dispensing errors made by registered pharmacy professionals acting in the course of their profession in registered pharmacies.

As P3 reported last month, the legislation safeguards pharmacists from prosecution in instances where they were unaware a dispensing error had occurred and/or took appropriate steps to notify patients once they became aware of any issues with dispensed medicines.

The Department of Health is working with health departments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to develop similar measures for hospitals and other  pharmacy settings, such as care homes, and will consult on draft proposals in the new year.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society welcomed the move, saying it will promote patient safety by “encouraging a more open culture of error reporting and reporting mistakes”.

RPS president Ash Soni said: “This is fantastic news for pharmacists and patient safety. We have campaigned tirelessly over a number of years to address the historical imbalance between professional regulation and criminal law and to keep this in front of policymakers.

“We recognise that this has been a long journey for the profession but I am now hopeful and excited that we can build on this important milestone, engage with wider stakeholders and see similar proposals for hospitals and other pharmacy settings. 

“Public safety is of paramount importance to the profession and it is in everyone’s best interests that this barrier to a safer, high quality service has been removed.”

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