A new study commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care has estimated that over 237 million medication errors are made each year in England with 66 million potentially significant clinical mistakes.
A medication error is a preventable event that may lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm.
The study reported error rates in primary care, care homes and secondary care, and at the various stages of the medication pathway, ranging from 0.2% to 90.6%. Errors were more likely in older people, or in the presence of co-morbidity and polypharmacy.
Responding to the report, the Royal College of Nursing warned that short staffing makes it more likely that nurses and other staff will make errors with medication. Healthperm’s CEO, Mr. Steve Howson agreed with this statement. “Such instances of errors are surely exacerbated by the shortage of current nursing staff,” he commented. “In addition, the need to deploy large numbers of agency nurses who may be unfamiliar with ward practices/ protocols and not have an existing relationship with patients can only serve to increase the risk.”
Healthperm believes that it is important for patients to have an ongoing relationship with a stable nurse team who understand their clinical needs, including medication. A stable workforce staffed by experienced, well placed and motivated staff can have a key impact on addressing the issues highlighted in the report.
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