Mistakes with medicines cost lives

An average of 1,254 people die every year in the Netherlands because they they took the wrong dose or the wrong medicine, according to a survey published on Monday. It is the first time such research, commissioned by pharmacist and medical specialist organisations, has been carried out in the Netherlands.

The research showed elderly people are twice as likely to be given or to take wrong medicines than younger people. In total 41,000 people a year are admitted to hospital as a result of taking incorrect medicines, at a cost to the health service of of €90m.
Around half of these mistakes could have been avoided, researcher Patricia van den Bemt, told ANP news agency. But this requires political will, said Van den Bemt, who claims that accidents with drugs lead to twice as many hospital admissions as traffic accidents.
Van den Bemt said many of the mistakes could be prevented if there was better communication between specialists, especially for patients who are prescribed more than one drug. The biggest problems are with blood thinners, pills for psychological disorders and diabetes and over-the-counter pills such as ibuprofen.

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