The State Claims Agency, which oversees the clinical indemnity scheme for the healthcare system, has revealed that four hospital patients died between January 2004 and December 2010 after they were administered medication to which they had a known allergy.
Figures made public earlier this year also showed that 35,310 incidents involving medication were recorded in the seven year period – a number of which led to patients becoming ill and having to be admitted to hospital intensive care units.
Although 95 per cent of these did not lead to any patient harm, there were 124 medical negligence claims in Ireland solely attributable to adverse or allergic reactions to a known allergen, and the State Claims Agency has urged medical practitioners to ensure patients do not have an allergy before prescribing or administering treatment.
According to studies made on behalf of the State Claims Agency and Health Service Executive, the errors are happening due to the complex way medicines are administered – with often a dozen steps being required before a single dose of medication is delivered to a patient.
However patient lobby groups allege that despite the acknowledgement of more than 5,000 medication errors each year, patient treatment incidents are under-reported in Ireland – a view shared by “Patient Focus”, who claim that the scale of the problem has not been accepted by the medical profession.