prescription errors

Prescription Errors in the UK: How Technology Can Aid

How technology fights prescription errors.

Prescription errors are a serious problem in the UK healthcare system – a problem that costs money, time, and tragically, sometimes even lives. Mistakes can occur at any point in the complex process of prescribing, dispensing, and administering medication. That includes everything from incorrect dosages to mix-ups between similarly named drugs. The good news is that technology offers powerful tools to help reduce these errors, making our healthcare system safer for everyone. We will also highlight how you can make a medical negligence claim.

Understanding the Scale of Prescription Errors

It might surprise you to learn how common prescription errors are in the UK. Every year, there are hundreds of thousands of incidents reported throughout the healthcare system. Many of these involve prescribing the wrong medication, the wrong dose, or giving the patient incorrect instructions on how to take the medication.

The costs are staggering:

  • Human Suffering: Prescription errors can leave patients with debilitating side effects, prolonged illnesses, and even permanent disabilities. In the worst cases, they can be fatal.
  • Financial Burden: The NHS, already under financial strain, spends millions of pounds every year dealing with the fallout from prescription errors. This takes away vital resources that could otherwise be used for delivering vital healthcare.

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The Role of Technology in Combating Error

So, how can technology turn this situation around and save lives? Let’s look at some specific tools and how they make a difference:

1. Electronic Prescribing Systems (e-Prescribing)

Gone are the days when prescriptions were all handwritten on pads of paper. Today, electronic prescribing systems are making huge strides toward safer medication processes. These systems eliminate the problem of illegible handwriting that can lead to misinterpretations.

More importantly, e-prescribing systems:

  • Have built-in error-checking capabilities, flagging possible drug interactions and alerting healthcare providers to potential allergic reactions.
  • Directly transmit prescriptions to the pharmacy electronically, reducing the chances of miscommunication between the doctor and pharmacist.

2. Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE)

Doctors and other authorized healthcare professionals can use a system called Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE) to directly enter medication orders into a secure system. These systems often have features like:

  • Clinical Decision Support: Offering prompts and reminders to help them select the most appropriate drug and dosage based on the patient’s medical history.
  • Real-Time Alerts: Warning healthcare providers about potentially dangerous interactions with other medications the patient is already taking.

3. Barcoded Medication Administration (BCMA)

Mistakes at the point of administering medication can have devastating consequences. With Barcoded Medication Administration (BCMA), both the patient and their prescribed medications have scannable barcodes. Before giving a patient medication, nurses scan the barcode on the patient’s wristband and the barcode on the medication. The system verifies that they’ve got the right patient and medication, minimizing the chance of error.

4. Smart Infusion Pumps

Intravenous (IV) medications can be tricky to administer. “Smart” infusion pumps help to ensure accurate doses and safe rates of delivery. They have built-in software, often with drug libraries, that perform automatic calculations and can catch errors before they harm a patient.

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5. Automated Dispensing Systems

Pharmacies are extremely busy places, and when the pressure is high, that’s when mistakes are sometimes made. Automated dispensing systems bring order to chaos, reducing errors in the dispensing process.

These systems:

  • Can pick, package, and label medications more accurately than humans, especially when things get hectic
  • Free up pharmacists’ time so they can focus on counseling patients and catching potential drug interactions.

6. Patient-Facing Technology

Technology isn’t just for doctors and pharmacists—patients can play an active role in preventing prescription errors, too.

  • Online Portals and Apps: Many healthcare practices offer secure portals or apps where patients can view their medication lists, request refills, and report potential side effects.
  • Medication Reminders: Simple smartphone apps can remind patients when it’s time to take their meds, help track doses, and even alert them if there’s a potential interaction based on their medication history.
prescription errors

Making a Prescription Error Claim with National Claims

Prescription errors can have devastating consequences. If you believe you or a loved one has suffered harm due to a medication mistake, you may have the right to claim compensation. National Claims has extensive experience representing individuals in prescription error cases and can help you get the justice you deserve.

  • Free Consultation: We offer a free, confidential consultation to discuss the specific details of your situation. Our team will carefully analyze the circumstances of the error and advise you on whether you have a strong case for compensation.
  • Expert Legal Representation: If it appears you have a claim, our solicitors will take over. We will handle all the legal complexities of your case, fighting to secure the compensation you need for medical costs, lost income, ongoing care, and the physical and emotional suffering caused by the error.
  • No Win, No Fee: We work on a ‘No Win, No Fee’ basis so you don’t have to worry about upfront legal costs. This means you don’t pay anything unless we successfully win your claim.


Prescription errors are a serious problem in the UK, but technology offers a powerful ray of hope. By embracing e-prescribing, smart pumps, automated dispensing systems, data analytics, and patient-facing tools, we can work toward a future where medication errors become a thing of the past.

Yet, until technology catches every potential error, the human element remains vital. Open communication, ongoing training, and a renewed dedication to patient safety from everyone in the healthcare system will make a lasting difference.

Contact us today to speak to one of our claims specialists who will be able to help you get started on your claim.

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