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Almost 6,000 people harmed by prescription errors in NHS last year

A pregnant woman who died after being given the wrong dosage of drugs was one of almost 6,000 people harmed and 29 killed following prescription errors in the NHS in England last year.

Figures from NHS England show that 98 hospital trusts experienced an increase in the number of prescription errors reported in 2021, including cases where patients were given the wrong drug, wrong dosage or were not given medicine when needed. Meanwhile, the number of errors fell at 105 trusts.

Leeds Community healthcare trust had a sixfold increase in prescription errors – with 111 errors, up from just 17 in 2020. At the Royal National Orthopaedic hospital errors rose from 60 to 193, while Herefordshire partnership university NHS trust had 55 errors, up from 20 in 2020.

The NHS said that some trusts still did not have a fully funded plan to introduce electronic prescribing, meaning they are still run at least partially using paper notes.

Peter Walsh, the chief executive of Action against Medical Accidents, said: “These are very disappointing statistics and behind every one there is a story of personal suffering or tragedy. What is particularly frustrating is that prescription errors are probably easier to avoid than many things that go wrong in healthcare".

“We are particularly concerned about vulnerable people such as elderly or disabled people in care homes, who may be more at risk because they may be less able to check for themselves and because they tend to get a less personalised service than the average patient.”

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Source: The Guardian, 26 September 2022


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