WHO warns of the dangers of drug practices

WHO warns of the dangers of drug practices

On World Patient Safety Day on Saturday, the World Health Organization warns that unsafe medication practices and errors are a leading cause of preventable harm in healthcare systems worldwide.

WHO is calling for urgent action to end medication errors that put millions of people at risk of serious harm and even death.

The agency’s quality of care coordinator, Neelam Dhingra-Kumar, noted that everyone will, at some point, take medication, expecting to benefit from it. However, she said they can be harmful if misused.

“There is plenty of evidence around the world that unsafe medication practices and medication errors are in fact preventable,” she said. “Like incorrect prescriptions, poor distribution, misuse of medicines, lack of proper follow-up. Once doctors prescribe medicines, they go out of control and even the use of substandard and falsified medicines is a major cause of preventable harm in health systems.

The WHO said half of all preventable harm in medical care is drug-related, and a quarter of those patients suffer clinically serious or life-threatening harm.

He said older people are most at risk, especially those on multiple medications. He said high rates of drug-related harm also occur in surgical care, intensive care and emergency medicine.

Dhingra-Kumar said the amount of drug-related harm is twice as prevalent in low- and middle-income countries as in rich countries.

“It’s mainly because of weak drug systems, lack of resources, lack of human labor, not a fully trained workforce,” she said. “And even culture; it is very, very difficult to change cultures because they are considered to be very deeply embedded in the blame system.

She said medication errors are often caused by human factors such as fatigue, poor environmental conditions and staff shortages.

The WHO says medication practices and medication errors are a leading cause of preventable injury and harm in healthcare systems. He estimates the global cost associated with medication errors at $42 billion per year.

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