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New BNF's authors defend errors

BNF authors: Other errors may still need to be identified

The number of “clinically important” errors in the updated text remains low, says the BNF team

The authors of the British National Formulary (BNF) have defended the number of errors in the updated version of the text.

The BNF team is aware of “a number of discussions and email threads” regarding the “small number of dose errors” that have been identified in the latest versions of the BNF and the BNF for Children, it said in a joint statement with UK Medicines Information (UKMI) and the Neonatal and Paediatric Pharmacists Group (NPPG).

The number of “clinically important errors identified to date remains low” in these versions, distributed to pharmacies last month, the organisations said last Friday (November 20).

It is “important to recognise” that errors were also reported in previous editions of the BNF, they stressed.

“As with any edition, other errors may still remain to be identified. Cross-checking with the updated electronic versions should be encouraged – this is particularly true for medicines less familiar to the practitioner,” the organisations said.

Some of the reported errors are “simply changes to the way content is represented” in the texts, the organisations added.

Publishing corrections

The BNF team is using its website to publish corrections to identified errors, such as the omission of intravenous doses for certain indications of the antiviral aciclovir.

BNF director Karen Baxter told C+D there is a “really low awareness” among BNF users that there has always been a process to identify and correct errors. “Although there are errors in both BNF[s], they are not occurring at a rate that’s markedly different from any previous editions,” she added.

The BNF team assess errors based on their risk of patient harm, Ms Baxter said. If a “really severe” error was error identifed, it would be corrected online “immediately”, she stressed.

Have you spotted any errors in the BNF?

We want to hear your views, but please express them in the spirit of a constructive, professional debate. For more information about what this means, please click here to see our community principles and information


Gurjepal Pannu, Community pharmacist

*This comment has been removed for breaching C+D's community principles

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Let me rack my brain for a young student i hate enough to encourage into community pharmacy.

Gurjepal Pannu, Community pharmacist

*This comment has been removed for breaching C+D's community principles

Hayley Johnson, Community pharmacist

"Applying candidates must like spam"

Stephen Walsh, Community pharmacist

Pg 655. Some HRT medicinal forms are missing their ingredients. Have sent email. Back to the old BNF in the meantime!

Richard Lee, Community pharmacist

I was going to look and check if it was the same for oral contraceptives, but Oral Contraception not in the index as far as I can see. Not under Contraception, Oral, Combined or Hormonal. Any other ideas?

Kristoffer Stewart, Editorial

I made a short video inspired by this comment

Dodo pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Try looking up antacids in the index - the page number is wrong!

Kristoffer Stewart, Editorial

Have you sent this to the bnf?

Dodo pharmacist, Community pharmacist

I tried phoning but they were too busy to take my call

Kristoffer Stewart, Editorial

That's not great, if you have the time try using the 'contact us' section at the bottom and send them a message. They don't get back to you immediately but at least you have let them know another error.

Susan Hull, Pharmacy

Like everything that is new it takes time to get used to it. I have only come accross one mistake at the moment (sure I will find more) but it was not a dosing error only a page error.

Kristoffer Stewart, Editorial

I haven't came across that many mistakes either, this is probably due to the nature of community pharmacy. However, a lot of the reports of errors have been highlighted by those who work in hospital pharmacy who would tend to experience more obscure prescriptions

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

So, hospital pharmacists work with better knowledge than in Community??? Compare how many community pharmacists are struck off for dispensing errors, given the time to respond we have, with those of our colleagues in hospital??

Ben Merriman, Community pharmacist

I'm not normally one to defend hospital pharmacists but I imagine they will spot more errors as they have more need to use the BNF given the nature of the dispensing they do. I have better things to do than sift through 1300 odd pages looking for errors; I have the Drug Tariff for that...

Jay Patel, Locum pharmacist

Well said!!

Michael Brown, Pharmacy technician

I think the new layout may have something to do with this... seems like a bit of a cock up any way!

Kristoffer Stewart, Editorial

Thanks for the comment Michael, I agree and it was something they touched on when i spoke to them. C+D will be releasing a news blog this week which will hopefully explain this.

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