World Patient Safety Day 2022: are medication errors preventable?

29 September 2022

EHMA and IAPO invited a panel representing a wide range of stakeholder views: hospital pharmacists, patients, self-care, quality and safety experts and health managers to discuss the current state of play, exactly 5 years after the launch of the WHO’s Global Safety Challenge and what is needed for the successful implementation of the Strategic Framework guidelines.  

European Member States show high variabilities of patient ratios suffering a medication error. Patient harm from medications may exceed the risk from counterfeit medications or medication shortages. Medication safety and medication harm are amongst the most under-appreciated sources of risk in health care professionals’ everyday practice. Although quality management studies report medication harm occurrences as non-existent, they do exist in hospital settings and in transitions of care due to the fragmentation between care settings and the lack of imprecise records of patients’ medication therapeutic information. Children and are nurses more likely to be implicated when an error is not intercepted.  

Numerous solutions exist to effectively manage and reduce medication errors. One is patients’ active participation in medication-related debates and discussions with healthcare professionals to report harm and feelings of discomfort which might be the result of a medication error. Strong patient peer groups and advocates can provide examples of how patients should engage in managing their own health. Health literacy and patient empowerment can also play an important role in allowing patients to take better health decisions and be active agents of their self-care. Digital tools can address patients’ unmet needs and can significantly empower them. Electronic Product Information (ePI) can reduce errors from medication and ensure patients equal access to medication information. 

Introducing digital tools, fostering cultures of safety, installing independent, audit, metrics and use of measurable real-world data are required to tackle patient harm from medication and provide more detailed information on medication errors. 

Medication errors are preventable!

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