Australia joins push to reduce medication errors

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medication errors
Copyright: natalia7 / 123RF Stock Photo

A global drive to reduce medication errors by 50 per cent within five years was launched in Brisbane earlier this month, as part of a new push by the World Health Organization to save lives and reduce the harm caused by medication mix-ups.

The WHO’s third Global Patient Safety Challenge, called ‘Medication Without Harm’, aims to help countries strengthen their systems for preventing medication errors, which are estimated to cost US$42 billion annually—with people in low-income countries disproportionately affected.

Medication errors are a problem in Australia, as they are in other countries. Previous estimates indicate between two and three per cent of all Australian hospital admissions are medication-related. This suggests at least 230,000 admissions annually in this country are caused by patients taking too much or too little of a medicine, or taking the wrong medicine—with an estimated annual cost of at least $1.2 billion.

Medication errors can occur for a number of reasons, including human and other factors affecting how medicines are prescribed, dispensed or administered.

Improving medication safety is a key area of focus for the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, which facilitated WHO’s regional campaign launch with the Australian Government Department of Health.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Of course those are the reported stats, we feel this is really just the tip of the iceberg. We do a lot of work in nursing homes and over the last 12 mths in many nursing homes we saw the shift from RN’s giving out medications change to PCAs, as a result the medication errors to our patients increased significantly, some who went to hospital as a results, however many were managed by the GP.

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