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Pharmacist suspended after making dispensing errors and deleting records

Pharmacist David James Murty, registration number 2017878, has been suspended from the register for three months by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) after making dispensing errors, dispensing methadone without a prescription and attempting to delete patient medication records.

Mr Murty, who worked for Lloydspharmacy for 25 years, admitted making a number of dispensing errors between October 23, 2007 and November 10, 2008 while working at the multiple's Catford branch in London, a fitness-to-practise committee heard last month.

The committee also heard that Mr Murty had later supplied two doses of methadone to a patient who did not have a valid prescription and without making an entry into the controlled drugs record, before trying to delete associated records.

The GPhC suspended Mr Murty for three months after he made dispensing errors, dispensed methadone without prescription and attempted to delete patient records

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Mr Murty admitted that his conduct had been inappropriate but denied that he had been dishonest, but the committee disagreed, ruling that he had been dishonest and issuing a three-month suspension.

The committee heard that on April 10, 2008 Lloydspharmacy had received a letter outlining concerns about a number of dispensing errors that had occurred at Mr Murty's branch. Then, on December 31, 2008, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) also received a letter of complaint from Lewisham PCT in relation to dispensing errors at the branch.

The allegations related to: a patient with a prescription for allopurinol 100mg tablets being supplied with allopurinol 300mg tablets; a patient with a prescription for Engerix B 10mcg being supplied with Engerix B 20mcg injection labelled as Engerix B 10mcg; and a patient who was supplied lansoprazole 30mg capsules and tramadol 100mg capsules that were labelled for another patient.

An internal investigation was conducted by Lloydspharmacy, which led to disciplinary procedures against Mr Murty. They were never concluded, however, as Mr Murty resigned from the multiple on November 28, 2008.

Mr Murty accepted before the fitness-to-practise committee his responsibility for these dispensing errors.

It was also alleged that on November 6, 2008 Mr Murty supplied 88ml of methadone 1mg/ml mixture and that on November 10, 2008 he supplied 66ml of methadone 1mg/ml mixture to a patient in the absence of a valid prescription and without making an entry in the controlled drugs register. It was further alleged that Mr Murty acted dishonestly by attempting to delete the computer patient medication record (PMR) of these.

Mr Murty admitted dispensing the methadone without a prescription and attempting to delete patient records. He said he had thought the prescription had gone missing, but denied he had behaved dishonestly, saying that it was "not his intention that no-one should ever discover that the errors had been made".

He said that he acted as he did because he was going away on holiday and panicked, thinking he would be able to sort the problem out when he returned to work. He said there was a "real fear in his mind that he might lose his job".

Mr Murty also told the committee that he had been "busy while working at Lloyds and had asked for extra staff, but that these had not been provided". He said he had resigned from Lloydspharmacy after the incident because he was "annoyed" at the multiple for not supporting him with extra staff.

He said he had not attended disciplinary hearings because he did not believe Lloydspharmacy would listen.

The committee accepted that there had been no actual harm to patients and said Mr Murty was a man of "good character". It noted his long and previously unblemished career and said there was unlikely to be any repetition of the incident.

However, it said there was "no doubt that his conduct was dishonest" and ordered a suspension of three months to "send out the right message to the public and the profession".

The sanction will take effect 28 days from the date of the hearing and Mr Murty has the right to appeal.  

A Lloydspharmacy spokesperson said the multiple co-operated fully with the GPhC's investigation and supported its decision, and had no further comment.

What do you think of the sentence Mr Murty received?

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Neeraj Salwan, Superintendent Pharmacist

So the fitness to practice commitee think Mr Murty 'a man of good character' yet just so they are seen to being doing the right thing suspend him for 3 months to send out the right signal to the public & profession. Hang on what punishement are Llyods facing here for providing the guy with and understaffed shop so the mistakes he made could occur.

Middle Way, Community pharmacist

Guys, please! Settle down! Think for yourselves. If Lloyds and other multiples went down who would be lining the regulators pockets with silver?

I've said it before, I'll say it again. It's corporate power that runs the show, folks.

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

I am confused by the sanctions handed down by the committee. In recent times we have seen misuse of loyalty cards attract similar punishments as the illegal supply of a CD (and then an attempt to hide the fact) - I can only assume this level of inconsistancy is due to this case being so old.
I would like some clarification from the GPhC of the thinking behind the decisions

Asif Ghafoor, Community pharmacist

The case has been going on from 2008......a bloody really cheers me up when reading that the RPS formerly RPSGB are nearly out of money, and selling all the china, an extinct organization asap. The RPSGB and GPC have no disregard for the pharmacists, and the anxiety they go through, I should know, have been through it.....two and a half years it took.

Lloyds will no doubt like all companies, have a busy branch, short staff, as maximize profits, and then blame the pharmacist .....when things go wrong.........

That's two companies that have turned in their own pharmacist that I have read off recently.......cannot beat loyalty...........No harm came to any patient, but I suppose all these cases keep the GPC busy, yes.....our registration money........pathetic...

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

I think the job of a community pharmacy is a mine field and advise all to take their time dispensing, don't be rushed, don't paint your self into a corner particularly with requests for CDs that compromise the pharmacist legally or ethically.

I think that pharmacists need support across the profession to deliver their role without undue pressure from any third party, focus on safeguarding the patient and this means a cosensus that pharmacy staff give respect to patient but there is reciprosity.

Pharmacists like counsellors.pyschotherapist need more mentoring, support and opportunities to get expertise dealing with pressures in the work place. If this means flexible working, buddy buddy systems, counselling then it needs to be supported by all stakeholders within the profession.

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