Drug errors cause appalling harm and deaths, says Hunt

Drug errors cause appalling harm and deaths, says Hunt
From BBC - February 22, 2018

Drug errors cause appalling levels of harm and deaths, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt says, as new data suggests millions of mistakes are being made.

GPs, pharmacists, hospitals and care homes may be making 237 million errors a year - the equivalent of a mistake made for every five drugs handed out.

The study said most caused no problems, but in more than a quarter of cases the mistakes could have caused harm.

The errors could also be a factor in more than 22,000 deaths.

The researchers - drawn form Manchester, Sheffield and York universities - acknowledge that there is limited data in this area so the figures are very much best estimates based on previous research, some of it going back years.

But they believe they are robust enough to warrant action.

The mistakes include:

A fifth of the mistakes related to hospital care, including errors made by doctors administering anaesthetic before surgery.

The rest were pretty evenly split between drugs given in the community by GPs and pharmacists and those handed out in care homes.

'My 92-year-old mother got another person's medication'

One of the people who suffered from a drug error was Catherine Young's mother, Irene.

She was living in a care home and was aged 92 when she was given a host of wrong drugs for several weeks after her prescription was mixed up with another patient's.

It meant she stopped getting steroids for polymyalgia rheumatica, which causes pain, stiffness and inflammation in the muscles around the shoulder, neck and hips.

This caused her to go into withdrawal, while she developed irritation around her eyes because she had started being given eye drops she did not need.

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