Shocking figures show number of people harmed by prescribing errors
HUNDREDS of people were harmed by prescribing errors in Greater Manchester hospitals last year, with patients not given medicine when needed or given the wrong dose or type of drug.
Staff at Greater Manchester health trusts reported 1,990 prescribing errors to an NHS watchdog last year.
At one trust – Stockport NHS Foundation Trust – 273 errors were found.
They led to 44 patients being harmed and one person dying.
The death came after a patient with multiple cardiac conditions did not have the correct medication prescribed either before, during or after surgery.
Three days later, and after some delays escalating to critical care she developed multi-organ failure and died in intensive care.
Of those harmed at the trust, 25 were a low level of harm (requiring extra observation or minor treatment), 15 were a moderate level (can lead to further treatment, possible surgical intervention, cancelling of treatment, or transfer to another area), and four were severe (the patient was permanently or longterm damaged). Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust saw 684 prescription incidents reported to NHS Improvement – which led to 32 patients being harmed and one death.
A description of the prescription error that caused a death were not recorded on the NHS system – just the side effects.
The figures – released under freedom of information laws – show that more than a fifth (21 per cent) of the prescription errors that took place in Greater Manchester NHS trusts involved patients being given the wrong dosage.
A further 16pc of incidents occurred when the patient wasn’t given their medication at all, or given it too late – while 9pc of errors involved patients being given the wrong drug entirely, and 9pc involved them being given drugs at the wrong frequency.
Prescribing errors are relatively common and usually result in no harm or low harm to patients.
However they can result in severe harm and even death.
An NHS spokesperson said: “NHS staff dealt with over a billion patient contacts over the last three years, while serious patient safety incidents are thankfully rare, it is vital that when they do happen organisations learn from what goes wrong – building on the NHS’ reputation as one of the safest health systems in the world.
“As part of the NHS Long Term Plan a medicines safety programme has been established, meaning more than ever before is been done to ensure safe medicine use, and nearly £80m been invested in new technology to prescription systems.”
Across English NHS trusts last year, 19 people were reported as dying after – but not necessarily because of – prescribing mistakes, while a further 40 were recorded as being severely injured and 532 were moderately injured.
The most common type of error was where medicine was | omitted, followed by wrong doses, and then the wrong drugs being prescribed.
That’s not including the 4,036 cases which occurred in settings other than a trust (for example a community pharmacy, general practice, etc.)
In total there were more than 52,700 prescribing errors in the English NHS in 2018.