As part of a system to help the NHS monitor medication errors, a series of indicators are being introduced to show whether a prescription may have contributed to a patient being admitted to hospital.

The move follows recommendations in the report of the Short Life Working Group on reducing medication-related harm.

The experimental indicators link prescribing data with hospital admissions for the first time. The purpose is to identify prescribing that could potentially increase the risk of harm and that may be associated with hospital admission. The aim of the indicators is to:

  • Support local reviews of prescribing
  • Minimise unnecessary prescribing
  • Identify where alternative medicines or medicines that reduce risk could be prescribed
  • Reduce the number of patients who are potentially at increased risk of harm from medicines and the number of hospital admissions associated with that risk.

The first indicators will measure the number of admissions for gastric bleed per 10,000 patients currently prescribed a NSAID without a gastro protective medicine. The programme will cover more medicines and associated conditions later in the year.

The launch of the new system follows research which highlighted the impact of medication errors, with an estimated 237 million taking place every year.

There are also plans to accelerate the introduction of electronic prescribing systems across more NHS hospitals this year.

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