A new report has highlighted the frequent mistakes made by medical staff when administering drugs to patients with swallowing difficulties in hospitals.
Researchers from the University of East Anglia observed medical staff across a number of NHS hospitals as they administered 2,129 doses of drugs to patients.
Errors are being made with patients who have difficulty swallowing medication
Their findings, published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, reveal that mistakes were made in 817 cases with patients who have difficulty swallowing, making them three times more at risk than the average patient.
Previous research has shown that patients with swallowing problems typically spent 40 per cent longer in hospital.
Errors included nurses crushing or allowing patients to chew pills which should be taken whole, and mixing medicines together to make them easier to swallow.
In addition, nurses failed to flush the tube in between administration of drugs, and used the wrong syringes to inject medicines into feeding tubes.
The most commonly made mistake was giving patients drugs earlier or later than they were meant to. This included 18 out of 49 cases of anti-Parkinson medication, putting patients at risk of escalating symptoms like decreased mobility.
Professor David Wright, who supervised the research, said:
"It is very apparent that patients with swallowing difficulties seem to be at greater risk of medication administration errors and therefore systems need to be reviewed to improve the quality of their care."
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