Preventable Deaths Involving Medicines: A Systematic Case Series of Coroners' Reports 2013-22.
France HS., Aronson JK., Heneghan C., Ferner RE., Cox AR., Richards GC.
Medicines cause over 1700 preventable deaths annually in England. Coroners' Prevention of Future Death reports (PFDs) are produced in response to preventable deaths to facilitate change. The information in PFDs may help reduce medicine-related preventable deaths. We aimed to identify medicine-related deaths in coroners' reports and to explore concerns to prevent future deaths. We carried out a retrospective case series of PFDs across England and Wales, dated between 1 July, 2013 and 23 February, 2022, collected from the UK's Courts and Tribunals Judiciary website using web scraping, generating an openly available database: https://preventabledeathstracker.net/ . We used descriptive techniques and content analysis to assess the main outcome criteria: the proportion of PFDs in which coroners reported that a therapeutic medicine or drug of abuse had caused or contributed to a death; the characteristics of included PFDs; coroners' concerns; the recipients of PFDs; and the timeliness of their responses. There were 704 PFDs (18%; 716 deaths) that involved medicines, representing an estimated 19,740 years of life lost (average of 50 years lost per death). Opioids (22%), antidepressants (9.7%), and hypnotics (9.2%) were the most common drugs involved. Coroners expressed 1249 concerns, primarily around the major themes of patient safety (29%) and communication (26%), including minor themes of failures of monitoring (10%) and poor communication between organizations (7.5%). Most expected responses to PFDs (51%; 630/1245) were not reported on the UK's Courts and Tribunals Judiciary website. One in five coroner-reported preventable deaths involved medicines. Addressing coroners' concerns, including problems with patient safety and communication, should reduce harms from medicines. Despite concerns being raised repeatedly, half of the PFD recipients failed to respond, suggesting that lessons are not generally learned. The rich information in PFDs should be used to foster a learning environment in clinical practice that may help reduce preventable deaths. https://doi.org/10.17605/OSF.IO/TX3CS .