40 Percent Of Drugs Wrongly Administered In Hospitals

Four in ten drugs wrongly administered in hospitals (Telegraph, Dec. 13, 2011):

Nurses were accused of making mistakes like crushing or allowing patients to chew pills which should be taken whole and mixing medicines together to make them easier to swallow.

The most commonly made mistake was giving patients medicine earlier or later than they were meant to, which in most cases would not cause any harm.

But this included 18 of 49 doses of anti-Parkinson medication being administered more than an hour late, which could have allowed patients’ symptoms to escalate out of control and prevent them from walking or getting out of bed.

Nurses also failed to flush tubes in between administrations of drugs, and used the wrong syringes to inject medication into feeding tubes, the report published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing claimed.

Researchers from the University of East Anglia observed medical staff as they administered 2,129 doses of drugs to patients across a number of hospitals.

In 817 cases an error was made, the study said, with patients who have difficulty swallowing three times more at risk than the average patient.

Previous research has shown that patients with swallowing problems spend 40 per cent longer in hospital than other patients.

Professor David Wright, who supervised the research, said: “It is very apparent that patients with swallowing difficulties seem to be at greater risk of medication administration errors and therefore systems need to be reviewed to improve the quality of their care.”

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