Pharmacists cannot fear the law

Roger King wrote to say that law reform, including decriminalising dispensing errors, will not change the way pharmacists work (
The Pharmaceutical Journal 2015;294:278
). I share his view.

Only a fraction of harm from dispensing medicines actually arises from negligence. Most injuries either result from system errors, or are inherent risks in the practice of pharmacy.

As community pharmacists take on a wider range of work and therefore are liable to greater scrutiny, a wider and more passionate debate is needed to ensure that competent pharmacists are confident about the legal system that is designed to be fair to both parties and there is compensation available to patients who have suffered unforeseeable harm from activities of pharmacists and their teams.

If pharmacy is going to play a part in a reformed health and well-being arena, it must also develop a more mature attitude to law and ethics and not be fearful of the law, regulators or peers. Instead of being driven by a series of instructions, we need pharmacists who are driven by expertise in pharmacy practice, compassionate care and knowing when to break the law in the interest of the patient and safeguarding of professional values.

Hemant Patel

Brentwood, Essex 

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, Pharmacists cannot fear the law;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2015.20068223

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