Hospital medication errors affected 260,000 diabetes patients in 2017

Charity says every hospital should have a specialist diabetes multi-disciplinary team, which should include a pharmacist.

Patient receives blood glucose test in hospital bed from doctor

Around 260,000 patients with diabetes experienced a medication error during a hospital stay in 2017, according to analysis published by the charity Diabetes UK on 8 October 2018.

According to the ‘Making Hospitals Safe for People with Diabetes’ report, in 9,600 of cases, patients were at risk of death or serious harm after falling into a coma caused by a severe hypoglycaemic attack, and another 2,200 people suffered from diabetic ketoacidosis because of undertreatment with insulin. 

The charity is calling on hospitals to adopt seven recommendations in order to help prevent medication errors and improve the safety of patients with diabetes.

It wants every hospital to have a specialist diabetes multi-disciplinary teams — which would include a pharmacist — and to have strong clinical leadership. According to the charity, 235,000 people with diabetes in hospital during 2017 were not reviewed by a specialist team.

Diabetes UK also wants better support for diabetic patients to “take ownership” of their condition, improved access to IT systems and for hospitals to be encouraged to learn from mistakes.

Emily Watts, inpatient programme manager at Diabetes UK and co-author of the report, described the statistics as “shocking and unacceptable”.

“Over a million people with diabetes spend time in hospital every year. It’s essential that hospitals are safe places for each and every one of these people. But the sad truth is that currently, not all of them are.”

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, Hospital medication errors affected 260,000 diabetes patients in 2017;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2018.20205557

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