Hospital Prescription Mistakes give rise to Medical Negligence Claims

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A recent study commissioned by the General Medical Council has found that nearly one in 10 hospital prescriptions contain a mistake which could have serious consequences for the patient.

In the 19 hospitals surveyed, there were more than11, 000 mistakes of which approximately 220 were potentially lethal.

The GMC found that mistakes happen for a number of reasons, ranging from the pressure on doctors during busy ward rounds, through to simple handwriting errors and a lack of "safety culture" in ensuring that the correct prescriptions are dispensed. They reported that lack of consistent forms or charts for ordering and monitoring medicines increases the risk of patients coming to harm.

More than half involved errors in which a patient’s medication was not prescribed on admission, during a re-write of a prescription or when the patient was sent home.

Another 40% were accounted for where the writing was illegible or the wording ambiguous.

When a patient collects a prescription, they will generally rely upon the hospital or GP to give them the correct medication to treat their condition. If the medication is incorrect or a prescribing error occurs, the patient could suffer a significant adverse reaction which can cause serious harm to a patient which may delay their recovery from the existing illness or lead to a further illness which could have been entirely preventable.

Simpson Millar LLP has recently recovered £17,500 for a client, Mr B who was prescribed steroids instead of antibiotics when he developed an infection to his eye. This caused a more severe injury to the eye, a delayed recovery period and ultimately some degree of permanent damage.

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This article was written by Lisa Swales in our Medical Negligence Team.


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