A retrospective study examining the nature, contributory factors and predictors of dispensing errors in community pharmacy

Sadia Kousar, Joseph Bush, Chris Langley

Research output: Contribution to journalConference abstractpeer-review


Introduction: Since 2005, the workload of community pharmacists in England has increased with a concomitant increase in stress and work pressure. However, it is unclear how these factors are impacting on the ability of community pharmacists to ensure accuracy during the dispensing process. This research seeks to extend our understanding of the nature, outcome, and predictors of dispensing errors. Methodology: A retrospective analysis of a purposive sample of incident report forms (IRFs) from the database of a pharmacist indemnity insurance provider was conducted. Data collected included; type of error, degree of harm caused, pharmacy and pharmacist demographics, and possible contributory factors. Results: In total, 339 files from UK community pharmacies were retrieved from the database. The files dated from June 2006 to November 2011. Incorrect item (45.1%, n = 153/339) followed by incorrect strength (24.5%, n = 83/339) were the most common forms of error. Almost half (41.6%, n = 147/339) of the patients suffered some form of harm ranging from minor harm (26.7%, n = 87/339) to death (0.3%, n = 1/339). Insufficient staff (51.6%, n = 175/339), similar packaging (40.7%, n = 138/339) and the pharmacy being busier than normal (39.5%, n = 134/339) were identified as key contributory factors. Cross-tabular analysis against the final accuracy check variable revealed significant association between the pharmacy location (P < 0.024), dispensary layout (P < 0.025), insufficient staff (P < 0.019), and busier than normal (P < 0.005) variables. Conclusion: The results provide an overview of some of the individual, organisational and technical factors at play at the time of a dispensing error and highlight the need to examine further the relationships between these factors and dispensing error occurrence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46
Number of pages1
JournalInternational Journal of Pharmacy Practice
Issue numberSuppl.2
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jul 2016
Event19th International Social Pharmacy Workshop - Aberdeen, United Kingdom
Duration: 19 Jul 201622 Jul 2016


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