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Medication 'errors' leading to antibiotic resistance - expert

27 February 2018 09:20

test tube for cancer  blood test

test tube for cancer blood test

Medication errors do not only harm patients but also fuel the increase in antibiotic resistance, the head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.

Antimicrobial resistance occurs when bacteria changes in such a way that the medication used to treat them - in this case antibiotics - becomes ineffective.

The issue has become a global one in recent years, with warnings the world could face a "post-antibiotic apocalypse" and the end of modern medicine unless the problem is addressed.

'All at risk'

WHO director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: "Medication errors do not only cause harm to the individual patient, they can also fuel the spread of antimicrobial resistance.

"Recently, WHO published the first report from global antimicrobial surveillance system known as GLASS, and the findings are alarming.

"In some countries up to 82% of bacterial infections are resistant to at least one of the most commonly used antibiotics.

"Medication errors are part of that story. When antibiotics are wrongly prescribed or are not taken correctly, it is not just the patient themselves who are at risk, it is all of us."

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Medication errors

Speaking at the World Patient Safety Summit in London Dr Adhanom's comments came as the Health and Social Care Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, also drew attention to medication errors.

Research commissioned by Mr Hunt's Government department highlighted how more than 200 medication errors are made in the NHS every year.

The mistakes, which includes giving patients the wrong medication, could contribute up to 22,000 deaths annually in England, the study revealed.

Mr Hunt said the research shows medication errors are "a far bigger problem than generally recognised" and are causing "totally preventable" harm and deaths.

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