Nurses should adopt new safety measures to prevent the most common medication errors, the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) has urged.
The NPSA has issued new recommendations on the handling of anticoagulants, injectable and liquid medicines, epidural injections, and children's intravenous infusions.
David Cousins, the agency's head of safe medicines practice, said: 'Many healthcare professionals think there is little they can do, but small things can make a big difference.'
The yellow book given to patients taking anticoagulants has been redesigned to make it easier to use. But one of the most common errors was not providing patients with a copy, he said. This meant that patients left hospital with no record of their treatment and no idea that they needed to attend an anticoagulant clinic, he said.
Other common mistakes included using an intravenous syringe rather than an oral syringe to draw up liquid medicines, and then injecting the contents. This practice resulted in three deaths over the past five years and 33 incident reports over the past 18 months.
'Seventy per cent of our incident reports come from nurses, but that's because they are very good at reporting,' he added.