New dispensing error decriminalisation legislation due by April 2018


New legislation to protect community pharmacists from prosecution over dispensing errors has been signed into law by the Privy Council, and could come into force as soon as April this year.

The Pharmacy (Preparation and Dispensing Errors – Registered Pharmacies) Order 2018 will introduce new defences for inadvertent dispensing errors by registered pharmacy professionals working in registered pharmacies. It is intended to encourage a more open culture of error reporting by reducing the fear of criminal prosecution, thereby allowing for pharmacy teams to learn from mistakes.

Ash Soni, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, welcomed the latest step in implementation of the order but emphasised that pharmacy teams in hospitals and other care settings also need protection.

“MPs and peers from across the political parties approved a change to the law in December [2017], so I am pleased to see this step towards it being implemented,” said Soni.

“Fostering a culture where health professionals feel able to report errors and learn from their mistakes will support a safer and better service for patients.

“I now look forward to the government publishing the long-awaited consultation on similar proposals for hospitals and other pharmacy settings as soon as possible,” he added. 

The order was laid before Parliament on 14 November 2017 and passed by committees in the House of Lords and the House of Commons in December 2017.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, New dispensing error decriminalisation legislation due by April 2018;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2018.20204412

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