Complaints and regulatory activity continue to rise for the Pharmacy Council of NSW, which says dispensing errors remain its major source of complaints
The Council received 312 new complaints in 2017-18, it revealed in its annual report – a rise of 14.7% (40 more) from the previous year.
Of these, 29.2% were from patients (91) followed by members of the public (15%, or 47) and relatives (13.1%, or 41).
Of these, four were mandatory notifications.
Nearly three-quarters – 72.8% – of complaints were about pharmacy/medication issues, followed by billing (4.5%) and National Law breach and health impairment (3.8%, or 12 complaints).
“Employee pharmacists and pharmacy owners need to ensure their processes are robust and complied with to minimise such errors,” wrote Stuart Ludington, the Council’s president in his introduction to the report.
“Complaints involving storage and management of Schedule 8 drugs are of continuing concern. Many of these issues could be avoided with the purchase of a bigger safe.
“There has also been a steady volume of more serious matters requiring consideration of immediate action which has had a significant impact on the workload of the Council.”
Another emerging trend was a rise in the numbers of complaints involving breaches of the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods legislation related to inadequate handling, storage, dispensing and recording of schedule 8 medicines.
“Of growing concern is the extent of the lack of oversight demonstrated by pharmacy proprietors regarding this issue, with many proprietors unaware of the deficiencies within their pharmacy,” the report noted.
Of the complaints managed by the Council, 271 were managed directly – 94.9% or 132 more than the previous year – while 151 assessments and hearings were concluded, again a rise on last year of 14.4%.
Immediate actions were considered or taken by the Council in 51 cases – 13.6% less than last year.
Meanwhile four outcomes for closed complaints involved cancelled or suspended registration; 26 involved conditions on practice; and 16 involved counselling or interview.
A total of 87 practitioners were being monitored at the end of the year – 70.1% regarding conduct; 13.8% regarding performance; and 16.1% regarding health.