Sunday 17 December 2017

Dispensing blunders top list of pharmacy complaints

Health Minister Simon Harris at the launch of the Pharmaceutical Society’s Patient Charter and Annual Report. Photo: Tom Burke
Health Minister Simon Harris at the launch of the Pharmaceutical Society’s Patient Charter and Annual Report. Photo: Tom Burke
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Dispensing errors, including giving patients the wrong drugs or dosage instructions, topped the list of complaints about pharmacists last year.

In other cases, patients received the incorrect strength or number of drugs, according to the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI), the watchdog which regulates pharmacists and pharmacies.

The other major source of grievance among the 27 complaints made last year related to allegations of poor behaviour and a lack of professionalism by pharmacists.

Sanctions were imposed against seven of the pharmacists who were subject to inquiry and one had their registration cancelled, the watchdog's annual report revealed.

A spokesman said the errors could, in some cases, be due to the pharmacist picking the wrong drugs from a shelf or misreading the prescription.

Health Minister Simon Harris said he welcomed the fall in complaints against pharmacists - down from 51 in 2014. But he stressed the need for the public to be made aware of the avenues open to them to highlight deficiencies in service.

He also emphasised the need for all customers in pharmacies to be given an itemised receipt with not just the price of medicines but also a breakdown of the additional fees and mark-ups added on.

PSI registrar and chief officer Niall Byrne revealed the first 'Patient Charter' - setting out what customers should expect from their pharmacist - is now being rolled out.

Customers can get a leaflet copy of the charter, setting out their rights in pharmacies.


"The charter is intended as an aid to improve public understanding of the pharmacist's role and the expanding range of services they offer," Mr Byrne said.

"It also highlights the positive role the PSI plays in how to seek clarification or redress if standards and expectations are not met."

He said 329 new pharmacists were added to the register, bringing the national number to 5,645.

PSI president Dr Ann Frankish revealed the inspection of pharmacies is also being overhauled to reduce risk and improve patient safety.

It will include a system of self-audits by pharmacies to assess if they are meeting the best standards of care.

Irish Independent

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