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PRESS RELEASE: “The Urgent Need to Reduce Medication Errors in Hospitals to Prevent Patient and Second Victim Harm”

Brussels, 22 March 2022

Ahead of this year’s World Patient Safety Day focused on ‘Medication Safety’, the European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines (EAASM) is organising an online Parliament roundtable debate entitled “Preventing Medication errors across European hospitals to protect patient safety: Launch of the White Paper on Medication Errors and Traceability”. The EAASM has been coordinating the European Collaborative Action on Medication Errors and Traceability (ECAMET), a patient safety initiative that brings together 21 organisations committed to the creation of regulations and guidelines on medication traceability to prevent medication errors in Europe. Several studies clearly show that medication traceability systems are the best way to address this problem.

Medication errors are the most common adverse event in hospitals, not only in terms of number, but as well in morbidity and mortality, and have significant economic and health consequences. Erroneous use of medication causes greater mortality than traffic accidents, breast cancer or the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). In addition, healthcare staff involved in an adverse event, the ‘second victims’, may also suffer from emotional harm. This timely event aims at raising awareness about the issue by suggesting possible solutions including better medication traceability systems and improved resources in hospitals.

A comprehensive White Paper on the Urgent Need to Reduce Medication Errors in Hospitals to Prevent Patient and Second Victim Harm is about to be released, collecting the results of a pan- European survey on medication errors. In total there are 25 reports comprising 13 country reports in English, 8 languages translations, a private hospitals report, specialised oncology and ICU reports and one consolidated report. In addition, to enable a comparison between the countries and their reports an interactive dashboard has been created. This allows the use to search by question against criteria such as hospital size, type or area.

The reports reveal many positive aspects within hospitals across Europe whilst at the same pointing to areas that would benefit greatly from development in terms of funding, training and implementation of traceability systems.

The White Paper recommends requirements to reduce medication errors in hospitals and highlights the need to:

  1. Establishing a culture of safety
  2. Create strategies to improve communication
  3. Raise awareness and organising regular multi-disciplinary training meetings
  4. Systematically use accreditation/certification systems
  5. Introduce technological tools

The above topics are backed up with scientific proof of effectiveness of such measures with the survey results adding a contemporary view. The 317 completed surveys can be regarded as statistically valid and so adds to the credibility of the Call to Action.

The ECAMET Alliance calls on European and national health authorities to commit to:

  1. Include medication safety in the Pharmaceutical Strategy for Europe, in the EU general pharmaceutical legislation and in Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan through medication traceability systems in a healthcare setting to minimise medication errors.
  2. Prioritise strategic investments in medication traceability systems in the EU4Health program to minimise medication errors.
  3. Foster the development and implementation of ECDC guidelines and key indicators on medication errors in EU healthcare settings.
  4. Facilitate the systematic exchange of best practices between healthcare providers both at European and national levels to reduce medication errors in healthcare setting. If you would like further information, please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Mike Isles (mike.isles@eaasm.eu). The reports can be found on the official website www.ecamet.eu alongside the interactive dashboard.

ABOUT THE EAASM

The European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines (EAASM) is an independent, non-profit pan- European Community Interest Company dedicated to protecting patient safety. The Alliance champions many patient safety issues to enhance medical practices, including the development of a robust and harmonised EU regulatory framework in the field of nanomedicines to protect patient safety. Other key activities include campaigning for the safer use of unlicensed/off-label medicines, better harmonisation of compounding practices, and the exclusion of falsified and substandard medicines from the supply chain. To find out more about the EAASM, please visit the website https://eaasm.eu/en-gb/ and follow @EAASMeds on Twitter.