Medicine

Drug errors contribute to five deaths in the NHS everyday

Drug errors contribute to five deaths in the NHS everyday

"Medication errors are undeniably a major source of harm for patients, so we hope these measures will bring the promised benefits".

She said human error is "one of the biggest risks" and that overstretched nursing staff and agency workers put "added risk in" the system, but certainly did not make errors inevitable.

About 270m drug errors happen every year, though three-quarters result in no harm to patients, according to the findings, which were commissioned by the government.

The new research estimates that 71% of the 270m annual drug errors occur when patients see a GP or practice nurse.

Of the total estimated 237 million drug errors that occur, researchers found that nearly three in four are unlikely to result in harm to patients, but there is very little information on the harm that actually happens due to drug errors. Initially that will involve only patients being treated for gastro-intestinal bleeding, which can cause harm or death.

The economic impact of drug errors varied widely, from £60 per error for inhaler drugs, for example, to more than £6 million in litigation claims associated with anaesthetic errors. The researchers are calling for more work to be done on finding cost-effective ways of preventing medication errors and their potential harm to patients.

These can occur at any point that a patient comes into contact with a drug, from prescribing, dispensing, administering to monitoring, and are defined as preventable errors which may cause inappropriate medication use or patient harm. Mistakes happen more often with older patients and those who have a number of illnesses and who use many medications.

Fiona Campbell, research fellow from the University of Sheffield's School of Health and Related Research, added: "Measuring harm to patients from medication errors is hard for several reasons, one being that harm can sometimes occur when medicines are used correctly, but now that we have more understanding of the number of errors that occur we have an opportunity to do more to improve NHS systems".

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"It was down to me, a layman with no medical training, to sound the alarm".

Professor of health economics at the University of York, Mark Sculpher, said: "Although these error rates may look high, there is no evidence suggesting they differ markedly from those in other high-income countries". "Most of the errors we've picked up in this 237 million are not going to affect the patient - are not going to even reach the patient".

Doctors and nurses should call each other by their first names to cut down on fatal errors, Jeremy Hunt said today.

In a speech on patient safety on Friday he will outline new measures to reduce errors that researchers from York, Manchester and Sheffield universities say cause 712 deaths a year in England and may be implicated in between 1,700 and 22,303 others. Now only a third of trusts have a well-functioning e-prescribing system.

The world of medicine was so hierarchical that junior staff were afraid to point out when senior people were making unsafe mistakes, the health secretary said in a speech to the Patient Safety conference in London today.

Andrew Iddles' mother Mabel was rushed to hospital in 2014 at the age of 102 after falling at home. The report cites human error as one of the biggest risks.

During her time in hospital she was mistakenly given medication meant for a patient in the bed next door - including an insulin injection.


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