Update: Legislation passed on inadvertent dispensing errors

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has joined other pharmacy bodies in welcoming the news that legislation to introduce a new defence around inadvertent dispensing errors has finally been approved by Parliament.

After being unanimously passed by MPs and following a final House of Lords committee, the ‘Pharmacy (Preparation and Dispensing Errors – Registered Pharmacies) Order 2018’ is expected to come into effect next year.

The UK-wide measure introduces new defences to the criminal offences relating to inadvertent preparation or dispensing errors by registered pharmacy professionals acting in the course of their profession in registered pharmacies.

This aims to increase patient safety by reducing the fear of criminal prosecution and encouraging a more open culture of error reporting and learning from mistakes.  

Ash Soni, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, 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.  

“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.”

Tess Fenn, president of APTUK, added: “This is extremely positive news for pharmacy professionals, both pharmacy technicians and pharmacists, and is most welcomed after many years of hard work by the professional and the Rebalancing Programme Board.

“This is a vital landmark in the passage of the legislation anticipated to come into effect in 2018. We now need to build upon the defences offered to improve reporting of dispensing errors and near misses, so that we can share and learn together to increase and improve patient safety.

“We will be continuing our work towards seeing similar proposals for pharmacy technicians working in hospitals and other pharmacy settings.”

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