I was pleased to read the news story ‘Pharmacists will no longer face prosecution for honest dispensing errors under UK proposals’ (The Pharmaceutical Journal 2015;294:200).
However, these proposals do not go far enough and still unfairly position pharmacists between a rock and a hard place. I think the focus of the legislation should target the corporate pharmacy business organisations rather than the individual pharmacist practitioner or pharmacy technician.
If corporate pharmacy (including the NHS) were threatened with heavy fines for facilitating dispensing errors through poor or stressful working environments for pharmacists and technicians (i.e. working alone in busy dispensaries for long hours with under-trained staff to make profit) then pharmacists would be free from the fear of prosecution. The organisation would also have a legislative, as well as financial, remit to improve patient safety since, undoubtedly, a big chain would not want a big fine. Magistrates and judges could then decide if the organisation facilitated the dispensing error or if the pharmacist was negligent based on bodies of evidence brought forward by the organisation, the pharmacist, Crown Prosecution Service, General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), etc.
The GPhC and HM Courts and Tribunals Service could then deal with criminal cases of negligence.
Adam Pattison Rathbone