New Program Helps Prevent Medication/Prescription Errors
24,000 Canadians Die Each Year Due to Adverse Events
The Canadian Medical Association Journal has reported that each year more than 87,000 patients experience an adverse event and as many as 24,000 patients die each year due to adverse events (doctor’s code words for a bad result or a mistake).
Medication Errors a Huge Problem
The CMAJ study found that 24% of preventable adverse events were due to medication errors.
New Program in N.S. to Identify Errors
Now an innovative program being implemented in Nova Scotia is helping to identify and prevent medication errors. The program, called SafetyNET is tracking and reporting mistakes that could have sent the wrong medication or the wrong dose to a patient.
The study being conducted by 13 pharmacies across Nova Scotia is keeping track of errors and anonymously reporting them online.
Not Required to Report Errors
Surprisingly, there is no requirement for pharmacies to report medication errors. Furthermore, there are no national standards or reporting systems in place to determine how many prescription errors happen across Canada each year.
However, the SafetyNET study has identified a number of potential problems that may lead to medication error including:
Illegible handwriting by the doctor writing the prescription;
Incorrect drug strengths;
Medication that is inappropriate because it may react with other medication that the patient is taking;
Mix ups between drugs that sound similar (for example Losec and Lasix).
Don’t Get Your Prescription Filled on Monday
The study also pinpointed when most errors were made. One of the pharmacies participating in the study indicated that the majority of errors happened on Mondays between lunch time and 5:00 pm.
National Reporting System Required
I applaud the efforts of Nova Scotia’s pharmacists to improve the quality of services they are providing to their customers. Medication errors are a significant cause of disability and death and anything that could be done to reduce the number of medication errors is an effort that needs to be supported.
The next step, of course, is the implementation of national reporting standards. However, given that pharmacist are provincially regulated, one has to wonder whether there will be any support for such a broad based national initiative.
What do you think?
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