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Death of teenager from a drug error a decade ago has made UK a leader in safety

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 30 May 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e3826
  1. Rebecca Coombes
  1. 1BMJ

The UK is leading the world in preventing wrong route drug errors, it was claimed this week.

David Cousins, head of patient safety, medication practice and medical devices, the National Patient Safety Agency, confirmed that there have been no reports of fatal or serious incidents in the UK involving vinca alkaloids being injected into the spinal fluid instead of into a vein since the death of teenager Wayne Jowett in Nottingham in January 2001.

“It is fair to say that our initiatives are leading the world,” he said. The UK’s improved safety record over the past 10 years follows a string of deaths including Jowett’s, which led to a government inquiry. Key has been the development and adaptation in the UK of safe connectors that make it impossible to inject medicines designed for intravenous use into the spine.

This is contrary to the situation in Europe where incidents of medicines being administered via the wrong …

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