Hospitals 'must cut 40,000 medicine errors' The Daily Mail 11th August 2006 Hospitals have been urged to do more to cut medication errors after figures showed more than 40,000 mistakes were made in the last year. The Healthcare Commission said many Trusts were not explaining possible side effects to patients and needed to improve how they prescribed and dispensed drugs. The National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) published its review covering England and Wales upon request from the Healthcare Commission. A spokeswoman for the NPSA said one in five of these mistakes caused harm to patients in some form. About 6,000 caused 'low harm' to patients, and 2,000 caused moderate or severe harm. Only 18 trusts in the Commission's review of medicines management were rated as "excellent", while 70 were "good", 73 were "fair" and 12 were listed as "weak". Under European law, patients must be given written information with their medications, but 31 per cent of those asked by the Commission did not receive any. In addition, 48 per cent of patients did not have the potential side effects of drugs explained to them by medical staff. Trusts were measured on 21 areas, including whether patients had had a comprehensive medicines review and if they had a complete medicine record for their stay in hospital. Hospitals listed as weak included South Warwickshire General Hospitals NHS Trust, the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust, North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust and Mid Staffordshire General Hospitals NHS Trust. The NPSA report said pharmacists needed to spend more time on the wards to minimise errors, with 11 of the 12 trusts that scored weak overall performing poorly in this area. Other areas needing attention included discussing side effects of drugs with patients. The Healthcare Commission's chief executive, Anna Walker, said: "Overall, most trusts seem to be getting the basics right when it comes to managing medicines safely, although it is clear that some organisations are better than others. "But our hospitals still have some way to go when it comes to involving patients in decisions about medicine."