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News: Decriminalisation of dispensing errors delayed

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News: Decriminalisation of dispensing errors delayed

Back at the start of 2015 the government drafted proposals that would essentially end the automatic criminalisation of pharmacists who make dispensing errors. I think it’s safe to say that pharmacists nationwide gladly embraced the prospect of no longer automatically committing a criminal act by inadvertently and unintentionally making a mistake during the dispensing process.

Those proposals have been a long time coming, and whilst practising pharmacists will be glad to see their implementation, decriminalisation serves a greater purpose to patient safety.The primary focus of the new proposals is to encourage accurate, honest, and complete reporting of dispensing errors to ensure that processes can be implemented or amended that prevent such errors being repeated.

Whilst we cannot advocate withholding any information which may be of value to the safety of patients, the potential of self-incrimination has always weighed heavily on the shoulders of pharmacists to the detriment of patient safety. The proposed decriminalisation of pharmacy errors hopes to spread a culture of reporting, sharing information and learning from the mistakes of the past.

Unfortunately, a year on and it is appears unlikely that the legislation needed to decriminalise dispensing errors will be laid before Parliament until autumn 2016 at the earliest. So, we may need to wait a little longer until the weight of dispensing error criminalisation is lifted.

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