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Woman given wrong medication in pharmacy mix-up

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A woman who took the wrong person’s medication when it was mixed up by her pharmacist was compensated after she experienced an adverse reaction.

The woman’s experience was one of a growing number of health care complaints reported to the ACT Human Rights Commission last year.

The commission received 683 complaints in 2018-19, according to its annual report, with 451 of those related to health services.

It also received 166 discrimination complaints, 43 children and young people complaints, 21 relating to disability and two relating to older people.

Of the health complaints received, the majority were about treatment including concerns about incorrect or delayed diagnoses, delays in treatment, inappropriate treatment, and inadequate care, the report said.

Communication issues were also a common cause for complaint, the report said.

The complaints were most commonly about Justice Health (51), Canberra Hospital (50) and Mental Health ACT (23).

Individual providers were named in 78 complaints: 55 being doctors, seven dentists, five psychologists and three nurses/midwives.

The report said the woman made the complaint about a pharmacy after they incorrectly dispensed medication to her that belonged to someone else.

She said she took the medication and suffered an adverse reaction.

The parties undertook conciliation and agreed to give the woman an apology, make changes in dispensing practice and financial compensation. Regulatory action was taken against the pharmacist.

In another case study detailed in the report, a woman was given compensation from an unnamed hospital after it failed to give her the further treatment needed for a broken ankle.

An independent clinical review confirmed additional surgery should have been performed by the hospital.

The hospital agreed to provide an apology, reimbursement of costs and a review of the systems in place for outpatient care.

The report also contained details of the work of the Public Advocate and Children and Young People Commissioner.

The advocate focused on the issues experienced by people with psychological disability in accessing the NDIS.

The report said multiple concerns were raised about the inadequate skill level of staff employed to support consumers with complex needs in supported accommodation.

“This lack of expertise to manage complex mental health needs and behavioural issues can lead to the consumer either losing their accommodation or admission to a facility,” the report said.

“There have been occasions where supported accommodation agencies have refused to work with complex consumers, and the only alternative has been long term admissions to mental health facilities.

“This lack of expertise impacts our most vulnerable consumers in the extreme, and requires attention.”

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