Medication errors may cause harm, including death, and increase use of health care services. This project aims to summarise the evidence on the burden of medication error, namely the number of errors occurring in the NHS in England, the costs of those errors to the NHS and the health losses due to medication error. This involves two systematic reviews, one on the incidence and prevalence of medication errors, and the other on the costs of health burden associated with errors.  Additionally, economic modelling estimates the number of errors occurring in the NHS in England each year, their costs and health consequences.

Project team: Rachel Elliott, Elizabeth Camacho, Fiona Campbell, Dina Jankovic, Marrissa Martyn St James, Eva Kaltenthaler, Ruth Wong, Mark Sculpher, Rita Faria

Contact: Rachel Elliott and Rita Faria.  Click here to email Rachel or click here to email Rita. 

EEPRU published its report on the prevalence and burden of medication errors in the NHS on the 23rd February  (see “Reports” below) that received a lot of media and ministerial attention.  The report is noted on both the University of York website and The University of Sheffield website.  This report informed an article in the Daily Telegraph by the Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt, who also appeared in other media outlets and had a youtube Q&A session with Dame Sally Davies about the problem of medication errors.  Mark Sculpher,  one of the Co-Directors of EEPRU, was interviewed by BBC radio York about the report at 1:05:00. (link to interview can be found here).  The report was picked up by the media and appeared in the BBC News website, The Times, The Guardian, Sky News, etc.

This report is referred to in the Department of Health website here and may have helped to inform the Department of Health new initiatives to prevent medication error; these are, as far we are aware, proposals for hospitals to access prescribing data from patients held in GP practices, an investment of £75 million to implement electronic prescribing in hospitals and a change in the law to decriminalise dispensing errors by pharmacists.


Elliott R, Camacho E, Campbell F, Jankovic D, Martyn St James M, Kaltenthaler E, Wong R, Sculpher M, Faria R, (2018). Prevalence and Economic Burden of Medication Errors in The NHS in England. Rapid evidence synthesis and economic analysis of the prevalence and burden of medication error in the UK.  Policy Research Unit in Economic Evaluation of Health and Care Interventions. Universities of Sheffield and York.