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  • Top picks for World Patient Safety Day 2022: Medication safety in hospitals

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    This year, the World Health Organisation’s annual World Patient Safety Day on 17 September 2022 will focus on medication safety, promoting safe medication practices to prevent medication errors and reducing medication-related harm.

    Patient Safety Learning has pulled together some useful resources from the hub about different aspects of medication safety - here we list six helpful reads related to medication safety in hospital settings.


    1 Error trap gallery - medication

    the hub’s error trap gallery provides a place to share examples of error traps you come across in your day to day work, including error traps relating to medications. An error trap is a situation that could lead to avoidable harm if not mitigated. It is a situation where the circumstances work alongside human limitations to make errors more likely—for example, packaging design that makes it hard to distinguish one medication from another. Medications with similar packaging are one of the most common error traps in busy hospitals, and being aware of them can help reduce the risk of mistaking one medicine for another.

    2 Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch investigation report: Unintentional overdose of paracetamol in adults with low bodyweight (24 February 2022)

    The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) carries out investigations into incidents of harm to gather and share learning that may help prevent similar errors happening again. In this investigation report, they look at the case of an 83-year-old woman who developed paracetamol-induced liver toxicity as a result of being overprescribed paracetamol while in hospital. The report presents key findings and safety observations around prescribing paracetamol to underweight adults. 

    HSIB reports on a wide range of medication errors, and you can access all of their reports on the hub.

    3 Blog - Unit-dose medicines distribution for hospital inpatients

    In this blog, independent pharmaceutical consultant Laurence Goldberg discusses the effectiveness and the potential for harm of unit-dose medicines distribution, often used in hospital settings as a way to save clinical staff time. In unit-dose dispensing, medication is dispensed in single doses in packages that are ready to administer to the patient. It can be used for medicines administered by any route, but oral, parenteral, and respiratory routes are especially common. Laurence highlights that although more research is needed, published studies have reported reductions in medication errors with unit-dose dispensing when compared with alternative dispensing systems such as ward stock systems.

    4 Blog - Action needed make insulin administration in hospitals safer

    This blog by Patient Safety Learning considers the safety concerns highlighted by a recent report by the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) into the administration of high-strength insulin from pen devices in hospitals. This blog argues that without specific and targeted recommendations to improve patient safety in this area, patients will continue to remain at risk from similar incidents.

    5 PSNet - Medication safety events related to diagnostic imaging (8 July 2022)

    This case report by Patient Safety Network in the US looks at the benefits and risks of using sedative medication in patients undergoing diagnostic imaging such as an MRI scan. It looks at two separate cases where sedation was used so that the patient could tolerate having a scan, one of which resulted in the patient being intubated for several days due to severe acute respiratory distress syndrome as a result of aspiration while in the MRI machine.

    6 Medication delays: A huge risk for inpatients with Parkinson’s

    Parkinson’s is the fastest growing neurological condition in the world. It affects young or old, and in the UK, around 145,000 people are living with the condition. Currently there is no cure for Parkinson’s, but medication plays a vital role in managing symptoms and preventing deterioration.

    In this blog, Laura Cockram, Head of Policy and Campaigning at Parkinson's UK talks about a widespread safety issue people with Parkinson’s face in hospital—delays in receiving their medication. She looks at the health implications of delayed medication, highlights potential solutions and talks about how Parkinson’s UK are campaigning for change.

    Take a look at our Top picks for World Patient Safety Day 2022: Patient engagement for medication safety

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