Dispensing error defence becomes law on April 16, but PDA concerned
The defence from criminal prosecution for an inadvertent dispensing error will become law later this month, but the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) has raised concerns.
Last month, lawyer Noel Wardle told C+D that even after the law comes into effect, there is still a “significant risk” that pharmacists who commit an inadvertent dispensing error will be investigated for a crime and have to face a jury.
The PDA echoed these concerns last week, warning that the defence would only “help in a limited range of scenarios”.
“The PDA is concerned that many pharmacists will have been misled by some of the narrative surrounding this limited change to legislation, which is giving the impression that pharmacists no longer need to worry about the risk of criminal prosecution,” the organisation posted on its website.
PDA chairman Mark Koziol wrote to pharmacy minister Steve Brine on March 16 to express these concerns, the organisation said.
One of the widely touted benefits of the legal defence is that it will lead to an increase in dispensing error reports, but the PDA told the minister that “given our concerns that prosecution risks remain, we cannot advise our members to error report without also making them aware of the continuing risks”.
The PDA has received “independent legal advice from the Queen’s Counsel”, which “in essence…states clearly that there are only two circumstances where a pharmacist can rely on [the defence]”, Mr Koziol added in the letter.
He invited Mr Brine to meet to “discuss our concerns on behalf of pharmacists”.
Read the PDA's press release, and Mr Koziol's full letter to the pharmacy minister, here.