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Medication errors common for hospital diabetes

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Four in 10 diabetic hospital patients are subjected to medication errors by NHS staff, a national audit has revealed.

The report for NHS Diabetes in England indicated that 37% of people with diabetes are given the wrong dose of drugs or at the wrong time by nurses and doctors.

The report, which encompassed 12,000 patients with diabetes from 206 hospitals as well as nearly 5,000 patient questionnaires, revealed that there is “cause for concern” about the care of inpatients with diabetes in most hospitals and medication errors “are worryingly common”.

Meanwhile, the report also revealed that more than a quarter (26%) of medical charts had a mistake about prescriptions and a fifth contained one or more errors. These errors related to drugs including insulin as well as tablets used to control blood glucose levels.

The report pointed to “significant issues” concerning the use of insulin drips in hospitals. It indicated that 13% of patients with diabetes had been on an insulin drip for the previous seven days but 8% of drips were considered “inappropriate”, while 10% of insulin drips exceeded seven days and 12% were considered “inappropriately long”.

In 26% of cases, the transfer of the patient back onto insulin injections “was not managed appropriately”, the audit said.

Those who had undergone surgery were more likely to have been given an inappropriate drip and more likely to encounter problems when going back onto injections.

Regarding medication errors, the study found a “marked variation in prescription errors” across hospitals, from no errors to 54%.

Patients who suffered medication errors were twice as likely to suffer a severe case of hypoglycaemia.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Why do we 'have to take over' when an expert patient comes into hospital, diabetes nurses, in my experience, seem to be concentrated in OP clinics and roles are lacking in the acute sector.

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