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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 May, 2003, 11:30 GMT 12:30 UK
New drive to avoid drug blunders
Chemotherapy syringe
Equipment will be standardised

Medics are to get better training and standardised equipment to avoid dangerous mistakes involving intravenous drugs each year in the NHS.

A study by the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) showed that in total there were 27,110 "adverse incidents" in 28 NHS trusts in just nine months.

A number of these involved infusion pump devices, used with drips to control the rate at which medicines enter the blood stream.

A report in the British Medical Journal showed that errors were made in half of the drug doses given intravenously in hospital.


And that of these nearly a third of the errors could be harmful, but in more than half the cases it had not been reported whether the errors were catastrophic, or minor in nature.

The NPSA's new Infusion Device Project will look at staff training and standardising equipment to reduce the risk of error.

It is not uncommon for several different models of devices to be kept on a single ward
Helen Glenister, of the NPSA

Helen Glenister, director of modernisation at the NPSA said: "There is a proliferation of different types of these complicated devices in use across modern healthcare systems.

"It is not uncommon for several different models of devices to be kept on a single ward.

"We will consider whether there is a case for limiting the models available in a particular healthcare setting.

"We are also looking at improving storage and maintenance arrangements in hospitals and training for staff in rapidly advancing infusion device technology."

Staff and patients will be give e-forms and a hotline to ensure mistakes are registered.


The project will be piloted in six NHS trusts.

Professor Peter Buckle, European Centre for Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Surrey said: ¿The potential for user error with infusion devices has been well documented by studies in France, US, Australia and Sweden.

"Yet surprisingly little research has been done internationally around building solutions to reduce user error.

"There is no doubt that this project is breaking new ground, and I await the results with much interest."

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