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4 month suspended sentence for pharmacist's dispensing error

Martin White of Belfast Road pleaded guilty to supplying the wrong item

A Northern Irish pharmacist has been handed a four-month suspended sentence for a dispensing error linked to a patient’s death.

Martin White, of Belfast Road, Muckamore in County Antrim, was sentenced to four months in prison – suspended for two years – at Antrim Crown Court last Friday (December 16), after he pleaded guilty to supplying a “medicinal product…which was not of the nature or quality specified in the prescription”, the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service confirmed to C+D this morning.

According to the BBC, Mr White accidentally dispensed propranolol for a prescription of prednisolone, in the hours leading up to 67-year-old Ethna Walsh’s death in 2014.

It was the “first prosecution of its kind in Northern Ireland”, the BBC claimed.

The BBC also reported that the court heard Mr White had previously mentioned his “low mood and tiredness” to his GP, and has since expressed “deep regret and sorrow” for Ms Walsh’s death.

C+D has asked Northern Ireland’s Royal Courts of Justice for a transcript of the court case.

Regulator the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland told C+D it is unable to comment on individual cases.

C+D’s clinical editor, and practising pharmacist, Kristoffer Stewart gave his reaction to Mr White’s court case here.

What do you make of Mr White's case?

Muhammad Usama, Community pharmacist

Such a tragic outcome. Really awful

janet maynard, Community pharmacist

Huge sympathy for Mr White. makes me want to retire ASAP before I make a serious error!


Ezio Orru, Locum pharmacist

How should  a mother pharmacist or a father pharmacist tell a child standing up in front of them, watching into the eyes, that they are criminals, they have done a dispensing error. Is it not enough to understand that all of this is wrong?

Farm Assistant, Community pharmacist

Pharmacy....the gift that keeps on giving. If you are reading this Martin just remember that the vast majority of pharmacists feel for you because but for the grace of God it could have been any of us. As for the others and most especially our wonderful leaders.........yuck them.

b t, Manager

But the REAL culprits are the Departments of Health in each home nation (devolution and all that) which are doing nothing about minimum staffing levels via the Drug Tariff.

Lets see the Chief Pharmaceutical Officers in the dock for endangering public health signing off the and the gross misuse of pubic money into the pockets of large corporate contractors.

Al Twigge, Community pharmacist

Absolutely discraceful that, how many years after that last case, punishments for human error that include imprisonment are still being handed out. How many more years must we wait for this stupid legal situation to be corrected? If there was a war on it'd be done overnight. C'mon, stop dragging your heels ( and getting paid for it).

Paul Samuels, Community pharmacist

There by the grace!!!!

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Makes your blood run cold really doesn't it?

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