Pharmacy standard 1.7 – ensuring “information is managed to protect the privacy, dignity and confidentiality of patients and the public” – was not met by 20 pharmacies inspected between October and December 2017, the regulator said in council papers published last month.
This made it the joint-fourth most commonly failed standard over this period, alongside ensuring “the safety and quality of pharmacy services are regularly reviewed and monitored”.
“Typical” patient confidentiality issues seen by GPhC inspectors included “prescription forms being left on the medicines counter”, as well as “cases where the consultation room was being used for additional dispensing space, but without appropriate precautions being taken to protect patient data”, the GPhC added.
“It is too early to draw any conclusions on why the standard that relates to patient confidentiality has been elevated into the top five standards not met in this quarter,” the GPhC stressed in the document, “but we will continue to monitor this to see if this is a continuing trend.”
The rise in patient confidentiality issues knocked a standard on maintaining “all necessary records for the safe provision of pharmacy services” out of the top five unmet standards for the first time in 12 months.
Of the 991 inspections completed in October-December 2017, the most commonly unmet standard was ensuring “the risks associated with providing pharmacy services are identified and managed” (see below), which 28 pharmacies failed, the GPhC continued.
”Confidentiality is hugely important”
In an exclusive interview last week (February 20), GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin told C+D that the regulator had learned from focus groups that “confidentiality is a hugely important topic for members of the public”.
“There is possibly greater awareness generally among the public of patient confidentiality issues, [as] it's in the media on a daily basis,” he continued.
“Over the course of the next year, you'll expect to see more from us on information and ideas emerging from the GPhC on how inspections should continue to adapt to meet the changing context.”
Mr Rudkin added that pharmacies should prepare for the implementation of new EU data protection rules on May 25 – the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). You can read lawyer David Reissner’s article today on how pharmacies must prepare for GDPR here.