Medication Errors Resulting in Death Most Common in Elderly

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In patients aged younger than 12 years, most errors concerned drugs to treat infection; among other age groups, cardiovascular drugs were the most common.
In patients aged younger than 12 years, most errors concerned drugs to treat infection; among other age groups, cardiovascular drugs were the most common.

HealthDay News — Medication errors in acute care that result in death occur most often in patients older than 75 years, with the most common error category being omitted medicine or ingredient, according to a study published online Nov. 22 in Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy.

Marja Härkänen, Ph.D., R.N., from the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio, and colleagues examined medication administration errors reported in acute care in 2007 to 2016 using data from the National Reporting and Learning System for England and Wales for 517,384 patients. The authors analyzed a total of 229 incidents reported as resulting in death.

The researchers found that 66.4 percent of errors were reported on wards and occurred most often in patients aged older than 75 years (41.5 percent). Omitted medicine or ingredient was the most common error category (31.4 percent); the most common drug groups were cardiovascular and nervous system (20.1 and 10 percent, respectively). In patients aged younger than 12 years, most errors concerned drugs to treat infection; among other age groups, cardiovascular drugs were the most common.

"Our findings show that more attention should be paid to the safe administration of medication especially when it comes to older people," Härkänen said in a statement. "It is important to make sure that the patient gets the right dose of medication at the right time and in the right way."

One author disclosed financial ties to the medical technology and pharmaceutical industries.

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