Multimillion pound medication errors revealed in new report

  • Date: 14 April 2023

MEDICATION errors cost the NHS £35 million in compensation in five years, a new report from NHS Resolution has revealed.

A total of 1,420 claims relating to errors in the medication process were made between April 1, 2015 and March 31, 2020. Of those, 487 claims settled with damages paid, costing the NHS £35 million (excluding legal costs).

Medication errors are defined as any patient safety incidents involving an error in the process of prescribing, preparing, dispensing and administering, monitoring or providing advice on medicines.

NHS Resolution data showed that anticoagulants, opioids, antimicrobials, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants are the most common medications to be implicated in incidents.

The majority of medication error claims (66 per cent) concerned only one element of the medication process. Of those claims, almost half of mistakes (45 per cent) were made during administration, followed by prescribing (35 per cent).

The most common errors made involved patients being given the wrong dose (27 per cent), the wrong drug (18 per cent) or being given medication via the wrong route (14 per cent). 

NHS Resolution has published eight information leaflets relating to medication errors as part of its “Did You Know” series. They include a number of actions that organisations and healthcare professionals can take to minimise the risk of medication errors. Recommendations include routine prescribing audits, robust policies and procedures, and local safety champions. 

This page was correct at the time of publication. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

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