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.
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.