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PATIENTS PUT AT RISK AFTER BEING GIVEN DRUGS THEY'RE ALLERGIC TO.

PATIENTS in North Wales have been put at risk after being given medication to which they were allergic.

Now staff throughout the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board are being warned to be more alert to the dangers.

In one incident, a patient was prescribed and dispensed an antibiotic containing penicillin, which he took even though it was stated on the box and he knew that his throat swelled up when he took it.

A report to Thursday's meeting of the health board says: "He was admitted with signs and symptoms of a true penicillin allergy with swelling and respiratory distress. He then suffered a heart attack."

The case is quoted as the latest patient safety issue to be flagged up among staff.

The report states: "There have been various avoidable incidents across BCUHB in both primary and secondary care involving the prescription, dispensing and administration of medication and other agents to which patients are known to be allergic."

It adds: "Patients have suffered serious harm."

Staff are being urged to carry out various checks of patients' records and alert systems, and to pass on such information when handing over to colleagues. There is also a "traffic-light" system identifying which antibiotics should not be given to patients with penicillin allergy.

The report says: "Allergies and drug intolerances can be due to many different types of medicines and agents. True penicillin allergy includes anaphylaxis, bronchospasm, rash, swelling."

Incidents involving drug allergies are constantly monitored via the Datix incident reporting system within the health board.

"For wards and departments with automated cabinets for medicines, there are relevant audible warnings heard when a medication is accessed.

"These warnings should help reduce the number of occasions on which inappropriate medication is attempted to be accessed. The number of medication declined due to allergy is counted. Staff are urged to remember to always ask patients about allergies and to check alert bracelets, clinical records, hospital and other alert systems."

Geoff Rhyall-Harvey, from the watchdog North Wales Community Health Council, said: "I am pleased that the board is using its experiences to avoid harm to other patients.

"It is very sad for the patient concerned. But they are issuing this publicly and that is a very good thing, if you compare it to the Betsi of last year. It's being open and it's good these things are discussed publicly."

CAPTION(S):

Bitter pill: There have been 'avoidable incidents across BCUHB of the administration of medication to which patients are known to be allergic'
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Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Date:Mar 25, 2014
Words:416
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