News ID: 174009
Published: 0657 GMT December 18, 2016

UK’s NHS blunders kill one patient a week

UK’s NHS blunders kill one patient a week

One national health service ( NHS) patient dies in the UK each week after being given the wrong medication or an incorrect dose of drugs, new figures show.

Government figures released following a Freedom of Information request show in the past two years dozens of patients have died after doctors or nurses failed to give the right drugs to their patients.

One died after the ‘oxygen’ supply they were hooked up to turned out to be normal air, wrote.

Another saw a nurse confuse two patients with the same name on the same ward and give the powerful painkiller morphine to the wrong person.

In a third a mental health patient was given a fatal 10 fold extra dose of an antipsychotic drug. The GP read the level incorrectly from a faxed discharge sheet.

The patient became sleepy, suffered from hallucinations and became dehydrated before dying.

Other cases include a patient prescribed potassium permanganate for soaking their legs who was mistakenly given the fluid to drink, and a patient who took their tablet before it was dissolved in water after mistakenly being told it was a vitamin pill.

Last financial year, there were 65 cases recorded of medication incidents where the degree of harm was recorded as death, meaning the patient either died or the mistake had the potential to kill the patient.

This is a rise of almost 40 percent on the previous year.

Peter Walsh from the patient safety charity Action against Medical Accidents said: “These statistics and cases are all about real people who have needlessly lost their lives as a result of lapses in patient safety.

"It is a sobering reminder that for all the talk, these kinds of blunders are still happening far too often.

“The government needs to invest more in patient safety including staff numbers to make things safer for all patients.”

Other cases detailed included two patients who died from internal bleeding after being incorrectly prescribed blood thinning medicine and a patient being given steroids for five weeks instead of two days.

The patient died of sepsis and experts said the steroids would have lowered their ability to fight off infections.

The figures come after an NHS inquiry last week which found hospitals are failing to investigate far too many deaths and frequently ignoring relatives of patients who have died.

The Care Quality Commission report, ordered by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, found bereaved families were often overlooked in the aftermath of a death.

One revealed that they encountered ‘more courtesy at the supermarket checkout’ after their loss.

Professor Sir Mike Richards, the CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, said: “Families and carers are not always properly involved in the investigations process or treated with the respect they deserve.”

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