Incidences of medication errors in Nigeria alarming: Expert

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A UK-based Emergency Medicine Expert, Dr Femi Ogunremi, has raised concerns over the growing incidence of medication errors in Nigeria.

Ogunremi, the Chief Executive Officer, Monitor Healthcare Limited (MHL), an international medical technology company, said, “It is a global problem which contributes to patient’s harm.”

Speaking in Lagos, he said the magnitude of these problems in Africa remains unclear.

“However, recent research has shown that the medication errors are common in Nigeria and healthcare practitioners show negative attitude toward it. According to a study by Iloh, G et all 2017, medication error makes 95.2 per cent of all medical errors in a cross-sectional study across Abia in 2017. It appears to be a major issue in Nigeria, but it is not projected as such; incidentally, if you ask around, most families will have one story or the other of their bad experience relating to this. The impact of medication errors cuts across the individual, family and the society,“ he said.

The expert identified the negative attitude of health practitioners toward medication errors as a major challenge to tackling the issue.

He said a study by experts confirmed in a national survey that the prevalence of medication errors was high among healthcare professionals in Nigeria.

According to him, an error is when a wrong, misleading or incomplete treatment or advice is given in this case, to a patient.

“Unfortunately, this is bound to occur in practices, either medical or otherwise; error can occur at the point of delivery or consumption and this can be at the point of prescribing or dispensing. A major issue here is the attitude of our practitioners in the country, including pharmacists, nurses and doctors. There is robust evidence showing that our practitioners have negative attitude toward the issue. Patients and relatives who visit our practitioners have trust in them, but in a lot of cases, our practitioners either do not understand the ethical dilemma involved in practice or it has been ignored completely. This results in perpetuation of errors and the nonchalant attitude toward patients,“ he said.

Ogunremi urged the three tiers of government to invest in effective training of health practitioners on how to prevent and deal with medication errors in clinical settings.

He also urged practitioners to be empathetic in delivering care to patients.

“As a nation, we have a lot to do in this sphere; the solution to this crisis is multifaceted and all of us have a part to play in creating a safety around our medications. At the manufacturing level, the regulators such as the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and others have significant roles to play. At that front, fake medicines or adulterated ones can be tackled from getting into the system,” the expert said.

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