New law on dispensing errors comes into force today

New law aims to improve patient safety by removing fear of prosecution for inadvertent dispensing errors

A new defence around inadvertent dispensing errors has come into force today (16 April), creating a safer environment for patients.

After a long-running campaign from RPS and the pharmacy profession, this UK-wide measure provides a new criminal defence for inadvertent dispensing errors made by registered pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in registered pharmacies.

This change aims to increase patient safety by reducing the fear of criminal prosecution amongst pharmacists for honest errors and encourage a more open culture of error reporting and learning from mistakes.

President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Ash Soni said:

“This is excellent news for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and for patient safety.

“After several years of dialogue with government, the NHS and the profession, our hard work and consistent advocacy on this issue has won through and we now have a new law protecting community pharmacists from automatic prosecution should they make an honest mistake.

“This long-awaited change will be welcomed by the whole profession, but I recognise there is still work to do to see similar measures put in place for pharmacists outside of registered pharmacies.

“We now need to address this inequity faced by those working in the managed sector, so we will continue pressing the Government to create a similar defence for pharmacists working in hospitals and other settings. We are pleased that the pharmacy minister, Steve Brine MP, has reaffirmed his commitment to seeing this happen.”

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has published a new Quick Reference Guide on making things right when there's been a dispensing error.

Members can also speak to our professional support service about managing dispensing errors on 0845 257 2570.