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Risk Management Development

Issuing risk management guidance and the in-house magazine, Insight, to help pharmacists keep up to date with developments in the profession.

The PDA’s risk management programme is designed to help make pharmacy practice more robust and to improve patient safety by helping pharmacists to avoid problems in the first place.

‘Risk management’ is what happens when an error or pitfall that occurs or is anticipated is studied, its causes are identified and changes in the system are made to reduce or eliminate the chances of the error occurring in the future. Risk management is important because it can help you prevent errors and in so doing it will reduce harm to patients, thus providing a safer patient care experience. With tens of thousands of members and through handling more than five thousand cases each year, the PDA has a rich vein of experience to tap into for the benefit of members. Problems encountered by some members, when shared on an anonymous basis with many others, alert large numbers of pharmacists as to the situations that they should be cautious of and shows them how they should handle these.

Some examples of how the PDA helps members to manage risks:


As pharmacists’ roles continue to expand and accountabilities become blurred at the edges, the boundaries of pharmacist accountability must be determined. As an example; in our arrangements for primary care pharmacists, we have incorporated a ‘boundaries of competency’ framework to help members determine their competency to deliver a specific role.

Consultation Responses

Our purpose is to help protect our members as individual pharmacist practitioners. Through the PDA Union and collectively on behalf of the PDA, we proactively lobby for change on behalf of our members. Since our members are pharmacists, pre-registration graduates and pharmacy students, who chose a career protecting and serving the public, we aim to ensure that the wider political issues we lobby for are not only in the interests of pharmacists but also in the public interest. Our consultation responses are published online and can help to keep pharmacists abreast of developments within the pharmacy profession and wider healthcare arena and prepare them for upcoming developments in pharmacy practice.

Dispensing Errors, Pharmacy Incidents and Clinical Governance

No matter how careful you are, it is a fact of life that mistakes will happen. Following a dispensing error, there is usually a relatively brief window of opportunity to deal with its aftermath in such a way as to avoid the matter going any further. It is therefore extremely important that pharmacists know exactly what to do as soon as they become aware that an error has been made. We regularly share information and case studies in our Insight Magazine and in other publications designed to help build understanding of how to improve practice and protect not only the public, but also the professional reputation of pharmacists. In addition, if required, our pharmacist advisors are on hand to provide advice on how to handle the practicalities of dispensing errors and their investigation.

Indemnity insurance*

Taking out Professional Indemnity is one of the core benefits of PDA membership. It gives pharmacists peace of mind knowing that they are covered in the event of a claim being made against them. Professional indemnity insurance is now a regulatory requirement for pharmacists as it protects and reassures members of the public that in the event of a professional error, they will have some form of recourse through compensation for any damages they may have suffered. Importantly, PDA member pharmacists can also rely on the fact that the PDA will act in their interests and to defend their reputation by seeking to establish who else may have been implicated in the error; such as an employer who was operating the pharmacy with a chronic shortage of staff or a GP who asked a pharmacist to undertake a task that they knew to be risk laden.

Landmark Cases

Landmark cases are those which have come to have a significant impact in the way pharmacists can expect to be treated, in law, in similar circumstances. Through our website and in our Insight Magazine, we share details of such cases to help you understand areas of risk that are relevant to your practice. An example of such a landmark case was the Elizabeth Lee case which PDA’s lawyers took all the way to the Royal Court of Appeal and succeeded in getting the law interpreted in a way that benefitted all pharmacist employees and locums going forward.


Pharmacists’ roles continue to expand and evolve and this is a good thing for the profession. However, it is the specific responsibility of the pharmacist to ensure that their competency for the specific task can be established and that he or she understands the increased risks that are involved and how to develop risk management strategies. Pharmacists are supported in this process by the PDA’s Insight Magazine which contains case studies tailored to different pharmacist roles.

*The insurance included with PDA membership is arranged and administered by The Pharmacy Insurance Agency (PIA) Ltd who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Register No 307063).


The Pharmacists' Defence Association is a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England; Company No 4746656.

The Pharmacists' Defence Association is an appointed representative in respect of insurance mediation activities only of
The Pharmacy Insurance Agency Limited which is registered in England and Wales under company number 2591975
and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Register No 307063)

The PDA Union is recognised by the Certification Officer as an independent trade union.

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