The identification and reduction of medication errors has become a top priority for all health care providers in the United Kingdom.
With over a billion prescriptions being issued each year by the primary care sector alone, it is estimated that 1.8 million of those prescriptions are made in error leading to serious consequences for the patient.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) define a medication error as:
“… any patient safety incident where there has been an error in the process of prescribing, preparing, dispensing, administering, monitoring or providing advice on medicines. These patient safety incidents can be divided into two categories: errors of commission or errors of omission. The former include, for example, wrong medicine or wrong dose. The latter include, for example, omitted dose or a failure to monitor, such as international normalised ratio for anticoagulant therapy”.
Often associated with medication errors are adverse drug reactions which arise through either the single or prolonged administration of a drug, or as a result of the combination of two or more drugs.
Medication errors can lead to serious consequences, including brain damage, allergic reactions, digestive problems and psychological injuries.
The MHRA operates a system which monitors the use of medicines in everyday practice. In conjunction with NHS England, the MHRA have set up a National Medication Safety Network which aims to “simplify and increase reporting, improve safety reports, maximise learning and improve practise to minimise harm from medication errors”.
In a review of medication error incidents reported to the National Reporting and Learning Systems over a period of six years between 2005 and 2010, there were 525,186 incidents reported, of which, 86,821 (16%) resulted in actual patient harm and 822 (0.9%) resulted in severe harm or death.
Errors in the prescribing, preparing, dispensing and administering of medicine are estimated to cost the NHS around £2.5 billion per year.
Examples of medication errors include:
- Being prescribed or dispensed the wrong drug
- Receiving the wrong dosage or frequency
- Combining medications that should not be taken together
- Time errors, where drugs are given earlier or later than planned
- Drugs administered intravenously rather than intramuscularly
- Administering unauthorised medication
At Wolferstans we recognise the adverse effects that medication errors can have on individuals and have an experienced team of medical negligence lawyers who can provide help and support in securing compensation awards in respect of these injuries.
Wolferstans recovered £5,000 for a client who was prescribed the wrong drug and went on to develop intense migraines with episodes of diarrhoea and vomiting resulting in a hospital admission.
In another case of misprescription, Wolferstans recovered £4,000 for a client who received the wrong dosage of a diabetes drug leading to an increase in the number of episodes of hypoglycaemia that she experienced.
If you have suffered an injury as a result of a medication error, then please telephone Michelle Nkomo on 01752 292248 or e-mail CNcoordinators@wolferstans.com for a free consultation regarding your legal rights in pursuing a potential medical negligence claim.