16 Sep 2022

Clinical Negligence

World Patient Safety Day 2022 – Medication Related Harm

September 17th marks the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s World Patient Safety Day and this year, the focus is on Medication Without Harm.

According to the WHO, medication harm accounts for 50% of the overall preventable harm in medical care and as reported by the British Medical Journal (BMJ), in England alone there are in excess of 237 million medication errors each year, resulting in over 1,700 deaths.

Errors can occur at every stage of the process and can include:

  • Prescribing the wrong dosage
  • Giving adult dosages to children
  • Long-term repeat prescription, without sufficient monitoring
  • The wrong drug being prescribed and/or dispensed

They can also occur in every setting where care is given, from GPS and pharmacies, to hospitals and care homes – the latter of which accounting for the highest rate of errors, despite covering fewer patients than the other sectors.

Sadly, the patients on the receiving end of these errors, can be effected in a number of ways:

  • Delayed recovery – if the medication dispensed is either the incorrect dose, or inappropriate for the treatment required, then any recovery from illness can be hampered. The knock on for this can include loss of earnings through being unfit for work and the patient’s mental health suffering.
  • Side effects – if you are taking the wrong medication at the wrong time, this can lead to both temporary and permanent side effects. Take for example, Gentamicin, a strong antibiotic used to treat serious infections. It is critical that blood levels are checked before any repeat dosage and where this is missed, it can lead to nasty side effects, including loss of hearing.

There are also cases of over-medication. In care homes, which we know account for the highest rate of errors, it is not uncommon for a resident to be given certain medication to keep them calm and quiet, when actually all they really need is stimulation, better care and more interaction.

It is clear that any mistakes in medication – be it dosage, incorrect prescription, or lack of monitoring – can make a patient’s situation considerably worse. If you or a loved one have been effected by medication or prescription errors, please contact Debra King from our Medical Negligence team on 01633 244233, who will offer a sympathetic ear and be able to advise you on your rights.

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