Woman given erectile dysfunction cream for dry eye in prescription mix-up

basic understanding of medical terminology and medicines

The importance of a basic understanding of medical terminology and medicines is as important as it ever was, and has been highlighted recently by this example of two medications with similar spellings – but for completely different complaints

A patient, had to be treated in hospital after she was given the wrong medication due to a mix-up.On attending the emergency department of a Glasgow hospital, the patient was found to have conjunctivitis and a defect on her cornea. However, the erectile dysfunction cream that was dispensed to her had a similar name, Vitaros, to the eye lubricant she was actually prescribed – VitA-POS. The patient suffered with blurred vision, a swollen eyelid and redness and discomfort immediately after putting the erectile dysfunction cream into her eye.

Experts have said GPs must use block capitals when writing prescriptions after a woman was mistakenly given erectile dysfunction cream for a dry eye

Eye doctors from Glasgow’s Tennent Institute of Ophthalmology, who treated the woman, have now written an article on the case in BMJ Case Reports, the medical journal

“It is unusual in this case that no individual, including the patient, general practitioner or dispensing pharmacist, questioned erectile dysfunction cream being dispensed to a female patient with ocular application instructions.

“We would like to raise awareness that medications with similar spellings exist,” the report said.

Importantly, doctors noted that one in 20 prescriptions were estimated to be affected by a prescribing error.

The original report can be read here

Training non-clinical staff in Primary Care

non-clinical staff in primary careOver the last 16 years I have delivered face to face training to non-clinical staff in primary care. In light of easy access to technology and information on the internet, what are the training needs today for non-medically trained professionals working in close contact with the medical profession?

What’s required of the role?

The class of 2016 are involved extracting and imputing key medical data from medical notes. Often referred to as note summarising, they scan medical reports onto IT systems and link them to a problem title. Then once this has been done read codes are attached to each medical diagnosis, operation or problem. This process requires clarity and key medical knowledge; it is not enough to record a patient as having had a hysterectomy (uterus removed). There are at least 10 different codes or ways of having a hysterectomy, and it must be correctly coded.

The non-clinical team also update medical summaries as letters arrive from hospital departments. Staff are expected to work with other agencies and need background information to deal with patients, doctors and other multidisciplinary staff.

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Medical terminology transcription errors ‘putting patients’ lives at risk’

Transcription errorsMedical terminology transcription errors could be putting patients lives at risk, because of a growing number of cash-strapped hospitals sending medical notes abroad to save money, Unison warned today.

The union has compiled a dossier showing that 21 NHS trusts are piloting the outsourcing of confidential patient information to India and South Africa, which are then sent back to the UK and added to patients’ individual records.

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To Err is Human – the impact of poor medical terminology training

To Err is human

Breast cancer, vehicle crashes, AIDS and medical error. Which do you think causes the most deaths per year? It may surprise you to learn that it is medical error.

A report issued by the U.S. Institute of Medicine (To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System) concluded that up to 98,000 people die each year in the US as a result of preventable medical errors, including lack of medical terminology training. For comparison, fewer than 50,000 people died of Alzheimer’s disease and 17,000 died of illicit drug use in the same year.

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