GIVING a patient allergic to penicillin the drug and forgetting an epileptic’s medication are among a string of recent errors at South Warwickshire Foundation Trust hospitals.
The trust – which runs hospitals in Warwick, Leamington, Stratford and Shipston – has seen an increase in the number of medication mishaps this year and is now taking action to stem the blunders.
Each month the trust tries to ensure the number of harmful errors is less than six per cent, but in February – when there were nearly 100 medication incidents – more than ten per cent of those patients suffered ‘harm’, which ranged from being given the wrong medicine, to not getting their medication on time, to being given too high a dosage.
Errors that month included giving a patient allergic to penicillin the antibiotic and also delays administering drugs due to ‘communication breakdown’.
By the following month the number of errors had dropped to 60, but there were still six which resulted in ‘harm’ to patients.
These included forgetting to give a ‘critical’ anti-epileptic drug and giving two medications which should not be given together – potentially leading to the patient being readmitted. One patient missing their medication was blamed on staff shortages.
At the same point in 2017 the number of incidents with ‘harm’ was below average.
The trust said it was working to rectify the issue and had installed a new electronic prescribing system.
It has also employed a pharmacist to work in the maternity department, where a lot of the errors were taking place.
A spokeswoman said: “As part of their treatment, our patients safely receive thousands of doses of medication each month.
“The trust’s strong reporting culture means that if incidents do occur they are highlighted and subsequently investigated thoroughly in order to improve practise and reduce the risk of harm to patients.
“Following the evaluation of a successful pilot scheme, the trust is in the process of rolling-out an electronic prescribing system which will further improve our medicines management.”
A report by healthcare inspectors the Care Quality Commission also flagged improvements needed to be made in the handling of medication.
When looking at Warwick Hospital inspectors found: “Processes and procedures to manage the administration of patient’s medicines were not always followed. Patients did not always receive their medicines as prescribed. There were errors or omissions within prescription charts and some patients did not receive their medication on time.”
The trust is currently rated as good overall but ‘requires improvement’ in the safety category, which includes medication distribution.