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Hospitals told to cut out errors after figures showed 40,000 medication mistakes a year

Medication mistakes and wrong drugs prescribed


As the Healthcare Commission published its rating for medicines management in all 173 hospital trusts in England, figures revealed nearly half of these were categorised as fair or weak, highlighting the need for the NHS to improve how it prescribes and dispenses drugs.

According to statistics from the National Patient Safety Agency, over the last year the wrong drugs have been prescribed in 40,000 cases of medication mistakes. The Healthcare Commission said there was an obvious need for improvement, to make sure patients understand the purpose and potential side effects of prescription medicines and ensure patients feel empowered to discuss any concerns. It also recommended that pharmacists spend more time on the wards to help minimise errors.

Although evidence shows most medication mistakes caused no harm, 2,000 cases did lead to moderate or severe harm, and even death in 36 cases.

There was some good news however, as the report found some evidence of good performance, including 40% of trusts prudently using antibiotics to help cut MRSA rates.

Trusts were measured on 21 areas, including whether patients had had a comprehensive medicines review and if they had a complete medicine record for their stay in hospital.