Pharmacist Expert Witnesses

Commonly instructed in criminal, civil and fitness to practise proceedings

What is a pharmacist?

A pharmacist is a healthcare professional who specialises in drug discovery and delivery, they play a direct role in improving patients’ health and wellbeing. Pharmacists have specialist knowledge of the chemical, physicochemical, pharmacological and toxicological properties of medication. Many pharmacists prescribe medicines independently of a doctor.

Pharmacist expert witnesses

Why might you need to instruct a pharmacist expert witness?

Pharmacist expert witnesses are most commonly instructed in criminal and civil proceedings as well as fitness to practise proceedings concerning other pharmacists.  In criminal proceedings, pharmacist expert witnesses are instructed to provide expert evidence in the following sorts of cases:

  • Drink driving
  • Driving under the influence of drugs
  • Whether a drug (or other drugs which may have been taken) influenced the actions of a defendant at the time of the alleged offence (e.g. the effects of a prescription-only medication on behaviour)
  • Valuations of licit or illicit drugs, either pharmaceuticals or drugs involved in criminal theft or illegal possession cases in general and with relevance to sentencing or The Confiscation Of Proceeds Of Crime Act

Evidence at inquests

Another important role of pharmacist expert witnesses is the provision of expert evidence at inquests where the circumstances surrounding a death are considered. HM Coroner may hear evidence from Pharmacist expert witnesses and the evidence provided has the potential to lead to recommendations. For example, the inquest touching the death of medical student Sarah Houston in 2012 heard expert evidence from Dr Graham Mould about the effects of the banned pesticide and former weight-loss compound, 2-4 dinitrophenol (DNP). Because the coroner may report a death to bodies such as the Health and Safety Executive, the evidence of pharmacist expert witnesses may lead action to prevent more deaths in similar circumstances.

Civil proceedings

Although people make mistakes, when a pharmacist makes a mistake and their practice falls below expected levels of care, avoidable harm may be caused to a patient.  In these situations, there may be a claim for clinical negligence.  To establish clinical negligence, it must be shown that:

  • a duty of care was owed to the claimant, and
  • the duty of care was breached, and
  • the claimant suffered harm as a result of the breach

Examples of errors which may be made by pharmacists include administrative errors, dispensing errors (e.g. giving the patient the wrong medication), transcription errors, and in the case of pharmacists who carry out non-medical prescribing, prescription errors.

What are examples of harm which may arise from clinical negligence by pharmacists?

The impact of clinical negligence by pharmacists may vary from minor to serious.  Certain groups of people are more at risk from clinical negligence by pharmacists.  These groups include the very young or the elderly.  When medication has been prescribed for an ongoing long term condition disruption can be very serious. In some situations the patient may feel that their condition is deteriorating or symptoms worsening, not realising that there has been an error with their medication.  Claims of clinical negligence may be made against pharmacies in hospital pharmacies or community pharmacies, such as those found in supermarkets and on the high street.

Pharmacists as expert witnesses in regulatory proceedings

Pharmacist expert witnesses might also be required to provide expert evidence in proceedings relating to The National Health Service (Pharmaceutical and Local Pharmaceutical Services) Regulations 2013.  In this example, pharmacist expert witnesses may be instructed to provide evidence in cases where a pharmacist appeals to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (“the Secretary of State”) against a direction from NHS Egland pursuant to paragraph 25(7) of the regulations.

Pharmacist expert witnesses may be commissioned to give evidence in fitness to practise hearings before the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and its fitness to practise committee.

What experts does Expert Court Reports have?

We work with two pharmacist expert witnesses, Mrs Azizah Attard and Mr Nigel Morley.  Mrs Attard is a specialist mental health pharmacist who has published widely about psychotropic medication.  Mr Morley has been a registered pharmacist for almost 50 years.  He is a leading expert in dispensing doctor dispensing and prescribing.  He has expertise in the Pharmaceutical Services Regulations for Appliance Contractors, Dispensing Doctors and Community Pharmacists.  He has expert knowledge of pharmaceutical negligence and fraud, community and wholesale pharmacy. He is also an authority on controlled drugs.

Why use Expert Court Reports?

A good pharmacist expert witness should come with years of clinical experience as well as specific competencies to act as an expert witness.  Look for someone who has established expert witness experience.  All our pharmacist have established experience of acting as expert witnesses.

How quickly can you provide a report?

At Expert Court Reports Ltd, we understand the pressures of the legal profession.  We recognise that litigation is subject to defined timescales and for this reason, we will be as flexible and accommodating as we are able to be.  However, we pride ourselves on not promising work that cannot be reliably delivered within a given timescale.  The quality of the evidence which is provided by our experts is subject to review and scrutiny.  All expert reports are subject to a detailed and robust proofreading process to ensure that our expert evidence is accurate and expertly formatted.

Instructing a psychiatrist expert witness

If you would like to find out more about how our experienced pharmacist expert witnesses could assist you, please call us on 01865 587865, email office@expertcourtreports.co.uk, or request a quote by completing our online form.