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Majority of complaints against pharmacists relate to dispensing errors

Complaints made against pharmacists fell by nearly a half last year.

Image: Shutterstock/wavebreakmedia

THE HIGHEST NUMBER of complaints made against pharmacists related to dispensing errors and behaviour and professionalism issues.

Of the nine complaints relating to dispensing errors, eight related to dosage. Three related to medications of minors.

The number of complaints decreased this year by nearly a half, according to the pharmacy regulator, the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland.


In total, 27 formal complaints were received, compared to 51 complaints in 2014. Others related to generic medicine substitution and dishonesty.

The Preliminary Proceedings Committee (PPC), which considers all complaints made to the PSI, referred 12 complaints forward for further action by way of inquiry.

Ten inquiries were heard before the PPC in 2015 and another one by the Health Committee.

Sanctions imposed by the council, following inquiry, included four admonishments or censures, two conditions attached to pharmacists’ registration and one cancellation of a pharmacist’s registration.

As well as receiving official complaints, the group’s annual report outlined 90 expressions of concern that were raised with the regulator, a 19% decrease on 2014.

Of the 90, six resulted in formal complaints, 37 were referred on for further attention and 47 required no action. A total of 32 were sent to the Enforcement and Inspection Unit for investigation.

Out of date medication

Concerns about professionalism accounted for 41 of the 90 expressions. Two related to generic medication substitution and two related to out of date medication.

Over 329 new pharmacists were added to the Register of Pharmacists in 2015, bringing the number of registered pharmacists to 5,645. A total of 42 new pharmacies opened last year.

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PSI President Dr Ann Frankish said the health system in Ireland faces constant pressures, but said pharmacies can “ease the pressure points” by being given further responsibilities.

In recent years, pharmacies have been tasked with giving patients the influenza vaccine. Last year 53,047 people availed of the vaccine in their local pharmacy, with indications their responsibilities could be expanded.

The Minister for Health Simon Harris said there are “potential new roles” for pharmacists, by expanding the care they can give their customers in the community.

A pilot scheme is in place in number of pharmacies around the country assessing what new responsibilities they might take on.

Along with the annual report, a new patient charter was also launched today, outlining what steps can be taken if a customer is unhappy with the conduct of their local pharmacist.

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