Patient safety incident reports decreased by 45% between April 2020 and June 2020


According to the National Pharmacy Association's (NPA) most up-to-date medication safety update, patient safety incident reports decreased by forty-five per cent between April 2020 and June 2020, in comparison to the previous quarter, and by forty-one per cent compared with the same time period in 2019.

In the 12 weeks, ten per cent of incidents reported to the NPA reported COVID-19 job pressures under 'other significant factors' contributing to incidents, although the reporting platform does not acknowledge COVID-19 to be chosen as a contributing factor.

“Patient safety incident reports decreased by forty-five per cent between April 2020 and June 2020“

NPA's report acknowledged the upsurge in demand in community pharmacies during the pandemic. Moreover, it highlighted that during the pandemic, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency reported a reduction in Yellow Card reporting, particularly from healthcare experts.

While the second-largest contributing factor to the recorded errors was sound-alike and look-alike medication, the main contributing factor continued to be environment and job factors, such as understaffing, time constraints and poorly structured working environments.

A large proportion of recorded incidents originated in the pharmacy, and the most common form of incident reported during Q2 2020 was dispensing errors, accounting for eighty-three per cent of the total reported incidents.

The key categories of errors reported were those involving medication errors, including the wrong drug formulation or strength.

A spokesperson for the NPA stated: “This is a significant reduction in the number of incidents being reported. This may be due to the increased workload and pressure on pharmacy teams due to the COVID-19 pandemic, whereby pharmacy teams may not be prioritising reporting of patient safety incidents or due to, other as yet, unknown reasons. We continue to raise awareness of the importance of reporting incidents.”

Chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English Pharmacy Board, Claire Anderson, stated: “These results show that urgent action is required to better support staff to make it easier to report these incidents. We should all be listening to pharmacists on the frontline so we can learn from the lessons and experiences of the pandemic. We are continuing to discuss these issues with the government to further support our profession.”

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