NPA: Workplace pressures contributing to dispensing errors

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Leyla Hannbeck: NPA will be closely monitoring the increase in workload
Leyla Hannbeck: NPA will be closely monitoring the increase in workload

Increased workplace pressures brought on by the funding cuts is being reflected in the number of dispensing errors reported in pharmacies, according to the National Pharmacy Association (NPA).

The number of error reports citing “work and environment factors” as the main contributor rose by 6% in the three months to June, the NPA revealed in its latest medication safety officer (MSO) report last week (July 19).

Speaking to C+D last Friday (July 21), NPA chief pharmacist Leyla Hannbeck said this is evidence that the “high pressure” brought on by the funding cuts in England is impacting pharmacists’ performance at work.

She warned that this could in turn impact patient safety.

“The NPA will be closely monitoring the increase in workload, especially with [the latest] category M clawback,” Ms Hannbeck said.

The NPA will also be raising its concerns with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), Ms Hannbeck added.

Reports increasing

The overall number of error reports is “consistently increasing”, noted the NPA, which suggested this is due to a rise in the use of its reporting tool, rather than an increase in the actual number of incidents.

The two most common error categories reported between April and June continue to be “dispensing a wrong or unclear dose or strength” and “dispensing the wrong drug or medicine”, each contributing to 25% of reported errors, the NPA said.

Patient safety incidents involving insulin appear “recurrently”, and Ms Hannbeck warned these can have “serious consequences” if the wrong type of insulin is dispensed.

As a result, the NPA has produced a new insulin identification checker to help pharmacists and pharmacy staff distinguish between different products.

Read a full copy of the NPA’s MSO report for April-June here.

Are you feeling the pressure of the funding cuts?

Have you noticed an increase in pressure at work as the funding cuts have started to 'bite'? Have you been asked to reduce your hours or increase the number of medicines use reviews? Or has a change of ownership affected your pharmacy?

Share your story with C+D by emailing us at this address with the subject "pharmacy pressures". We will respect all requests for anonymity.

Please provide as much detail as possible, including the relevant town or region.

21 Comments
Question: 
How are the funding cuts affecting your pharmacy?

Sau Sheung Yuen, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

I wonder if the PDA can provide evidence for their assertion that there are more reporting and not more incidents? That is not my experience at all. In the early 1980s a dispensing error was a big thing, and latterly, I have seen stores where there are multiple 'reports' on a daily basis. 

Pharmacist Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

''NPA: Workplace pressures contributing to dispensing errors'' 

Please tell me something that I dont already know. Link selling, MUR and NMS bullying tactics from non clinical managers, item growth projections which are not attainable, unrealistic targets, no lunch breaks, etc etc, the list goes on. These pressures have been going on for as long as I can remember

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Yawn..........

Tom Kennedy, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

What rubbish. It's due to pharmacists not paying attention, stop making excuses Gupta.  

Arun Bains, Community pharmacist

People like this (who seem to be walking around with their eyes and ears closed) are the reason I moved to study medicine. This guy (and people like him) signal the end of pharmacy as a scientific evidence based pursuit to a 'sell sell sell' retail enterprise. This 

Locum Pharmacist, Locum pharmacist

An unsurprising comment from an area manager...and people think you guys don't care!

John Dow, Advertising

To Mr Area  Manager Tom Kennedy ,Have you never heard of distractions, work pressure and extenuating circumstances etc etc?????  

Arun Bains, Community pharmacist

Dig hole is sand.... insert head..... recover with more sand.

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

There is one glaring omission from this report - and I have questioned this in the past on these pages. What sample size is  the report based upon i.e. how many reported errors are we talking about? Nowhere is this mentioned. Without this figure, the other figures are meaningless. I would hazard a guess that the reason for not mentioning this figure is that it is embarrassingly low. Care to comment NPA?

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

There is one glaring omission from this report - and I have questioned this in the past on these pages. What sample size the report is based upon i.e. how many reported errors are we talking about? Nowhere is this mentioned. Without this figure, the other figures are meaningless. I would hazard a guess that the reason for not mentioning this figure is that it is embarrassingly low. Care to comment NPA?

Derek Noble, Locum pharmacist

I have just read the above mentioned report on dispensing errors. I found it to be a well presented report that summed up the information in a clear and concise manner.

Then I wondered about the conditions that the composer had to work in whilst compiling it.......babies crying, two phones constantly ringing, people walking into the office and telling them that they were doing it wrong, having to stop mid-stream to write another report, being pressurised to knock out 400 such reports in a year, having to proof-read at least 300 reports every day, having to give advice to newbies who had never written a report before and may stop writing reports after a week unless you telephone them at least twice, simultaneously paying attention to other report writers in case they have written the wrong advice, wondering whether the drug addict that has just walked into the office; and is acting aggressively, is actually going to harm you, again stopping mid-stream to administer a jab to someone who has just walked in off the street, keeping one eye on the office in case someone is putting the supplies in their pocket, having to decipher the handwriting of a contributor to the report because you have no chance of contacting them to clarify their intentions?

No.

Probably not.

 

Sharon Stone, Communications

This headline is about 5 years behind the times, although better late than never to ask the relevant questions, it remains to be seen what the GPhC will do about it . Oh sorry , I know the answer already .

Meera Sharma, Community pharmacist

So the NPA are going to raise their concerns with the GPhC - love it!! NPA - Please let me know when you get some concrete answers and actions from them. Some of their membership is still waiting for answers 5-10 years later!

Meera Sharma, Community pharmacist

S Morein as usual is completely removed from reality - very helpful insight - not!

Tom Kennedy, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Meera Sharma as usual is trolling the internet instead of doing MURs - very helpful insight - not!    

Arun Bains, Community pharmacist

Yes Tom..... MURs that area managers are forcing down patients throats in your attempt to fool the NHS into thinking that these are actually useful when we all know you are in fact milking the system.

Chris Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

I would hazard a guess that lack of staff would be a far bigger contributory factor than dispensary size...funding cuts have simply meant that more is expected with less/the same staffing levels, not surprisingly mistakes will be more common...or perhaps pharmacists brains are overloaded with targets...MURs, NMS, OTC sales, Rx items, private service revenue, EPS nominations, SCR access, QP asthma interventions, flu vaccinations on and on and on... No wonder mistakes happen with ever-increasing distractions.

sanjai sankar, Locum pharmacist

I spoke to a GPHC representative recently who stated  that work place pressure cannot be an excuse for errors...Another very helpful insight from our regulator....and indicative of how totally out of touch some of them are...the threat of unemployment is pushing pharmacists to have to work in increasingly risky environments to earn a living....there's no choice for many of us....

Rubicon Mango, Academic pharmacist

Seriously? Is there actually anywhere we can report the GPhC, I have never known an organisation who totally disregards its paying members.

S Morein, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Too many prescriptions being dispensed by too few contractors including those where the dispensary area is too small to accomodate the volumes being dispensed. Simple answer is to remove contract limitation and to allow more contractors to reduce these obvious risks.

S Pessina, Pharmacist Director

What rubbish . Its due to few dispensary staff and more " box ticking regimens" thats the problem.

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