260,000 diabetes patients ‘experienced medication error in hospital last year’

Diabetes UK has warned that more than 260,000 diabetes inpatients experienced a medication error at hospital in 2017, 9,600 of whom suffered serious and potentially life-threatening episodes of hypoglycaemia as a result of poor insulin management.

The charity is calling on hospital to adopt measures to improve patient experience for people with diabetes and reduce the time they spend in hospital.

With more than a million patients with diabetes being admitted to hospital in 2017, diabetes inpatient care cost the NHS £2.5 billion last year, 11% of the annual inpatient budget. By 2030 patients with diabetes are expected to account for a quarter of people occupying hospital beds by 2030.

Despite rising demand, a quarter of hospitals still do not have specialist diabetes nurses and the report says that investing £5m in these 54 trusts would save £14m a year.

Emily Watts, Diabetes UK inpatient programme manager and co-author of the report said: “Nine thousand six hundred people experiencing a severe, potentially life-threatening episodes of hypoglycaemia because of inadequate care whilst in hospital, a place where people should feel supported and safe, is shocking and unacceptable.

“It is essential that hospitals are safe places for each and every one of these people, but the sad truth is that currently, not all of them are”.

Diabetes UK chief executive, Chris Askew said “The NHS is under immense strain, and diabetes is just one of the complex issues competing to be a priority.

“However, the number of diabetes inpatients receiving inadequate levels of care is a clear reflection that more must be done to make hospitals safe for those living with diabetes”.

A spokeswoman for NHS England said: “NHS England has recently invested £10 million to increase the number of specialist diabetes nurses working in hospitals, and evidence shows they help reduce lengths of stay and medication errors with diabetes”.

If you or a member of your family has been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can seek independent legal advice from our clinical negligence specialists.

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