Thursday 8 December 2016

Up to three million medication errors may be made in hospitals every year

Published 25/10/2016 | 19:29

Patient safety inspectors are now to begin hospital checks to find out if proper standards are in place for the use of medicines (Stock photo)
Patient safety inspectors are now to begin hospital checks to find out if proper standards are in place for the use of medicines (Stock photo)

Up to three million medication errors may be made in Irish hospitals annually, posing serious risks to patients.

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Patient safety inspectors are now to begin hospital checks to find out if proper standards are in place for the use of medicines.

The inspections are to be carried out by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) to reduce the risks of errors.

Aoife Lenihan, lead inspector on the medication safety monitoring programme, said: “Medications are the most commonly used intervention in healthcare, and advances in medication usage continue to play a key role in improving patient treatment success.

“However, where medicines are used, the potential for error, such as in prescribing, administering or monitoring, also exists. While most medication errors do not result in patient harm, medication errors have, in some instances, the potential to result in catastrophic harm or death to patients.”

“Medication safety has been identified by a number of bodies in Ireland as a key focus for improvement and it is estimated that on average, at least one medication error per hospital patient occurs each day.

“This means that there could be up to three million medication errors in Irish public hospitals per year.”

Hiqa said a phased approach for monitoring medication safety in public acute hospitals will start and allow and encourage incremental improvement in the medication safety systems in place in public acute hospitals.

The first phase will initially focus on the fundamental governance and structure requirements to support a medication safety programme.

Further monitoring in subsequent phases will focus on specific structures and systems that have been proven to enhance safety.

Ms Lenihan said:” Hiqa will be reviewing medication safety practices in public acute hospitals in Ireland.

“Hospitals should already have structures in place for medication safety to standardise practices and strive to develop a culture of safety. HIQA inspections will interview staff, speak with patients, observe clinical areas and review documentation in relation to this to gather a comprehensive oversight of medication practices.”

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