A prescription management IT system could prevent 16,000 deaths a year, according to a report presented to an enquiry into deaths in hospital care.
The report, written by Dr David Rosser, medical director at University Hosptials Birmingham, explains how the NHS Trust has developed a system to reduce errors in administering patient medication.
The self-built system, called the Prescribing, Information and Communication system (PICS), manages 125,000 ‘drug administration events’ each week, the report explains. Using a set of 16,000 rules, the system warns medical staff if they are administering a drug that could be dangerous to the patient, or if they have forgotten a dose. The system catches an average of 400 errors every day.
As a result of using the system, UHB has seen a 16.9% drop in deaths over 12 months, meaning that 100 lives were saved. Scaled up to the entire NHS, it could prevent 16,000 deaths, the report says.
The NHS inquiry was launched after a 2009 report exposed conditions at Stafford Hospital, run by the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, that lead had to hundreds of preventable deaths.
"We believe that the fall in mortality seen at UHB represents the mirror image of the problems at Mid Staffs," Dr Rosser wrote in his report.
He also warned, however, that organisational changes would also be needed for the IT system to have the desired effect. "While there are huge benefits from advanced IT systems, it must be understood that their benefits will inevitably be limited without the cultural change to personal responsibility and accountability described in the paper."