Are patients told about medication side effects?

This indicator uses survey data to explore whether patients are told about medication side effects to watch for.

Indicator

Last updated: 21/08/2019

Patient experience Safety
Hospital care Emergency care

Background

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines say that inpatients should receive the same information about medication side effects as patients in other settings. This includes “likely or significant adverse effects and what to do if they think they are experiencing them”. One of the pledges in the NHS Constitution is to encourage feedback on health and care experiences and use this to improve services. The Care Quality Commission's Adult Inpatient Survey and Emergency Department Survey ask service users if members of staff told them about medication side effects to watch for.


How does the proportion of patients told about medication side effects to watch for compare across NHS services? 21/08/2019

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Less than half (45%) of Emergency Department Survey respondents who were prescribed any new medication said that a member of staff ‘completely’ told them about medication side effects to watch for, and 37% said they were not told. Only 38% of Adult Inpatient Survey respondents who were given medicines to take at home were ‘completely’ told about side effects to watch for, and a larger proportion (44%) were not told.

Note that the differences in responses between the surveys may reflect the demographics of respondents, as well as their experience of services.


How has the proportion of inpatients told about medication side effects to watch for when they went home changed over time? 21/08/2019

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NHS Adult Inpatient Survey respondents are asked, “Did a member of staff tell you about medication side effects to watch for when you went home?” The proportion of respondents who said that a member of staff ‘completely’ told them about side effects to watch for increased slightly from 36% in 2009 to 39% in 2015, but has since decreased again to 37% in 2018. In the most recent survey, 44% of respondents stated that they were not told about medication side effects to watch for when they went home.

About this data

These indicators draw on data from the Adult Inpatient Survey and the Emergency Department Survey.

For each Care Quality Commission survey, two weights have been applied to the survey results data:

  • a trust weight to ensure that each trust contributes equally to the England average, and
  • a population weight, to make sure each trust’s results are representative of their own sample and do not over-represent particular groups, such as older respondents.

A combination of the two weights results in one single weighting, which has been applied to enable comparisons between years.

Note that the 2016 Emergency Department Survey is the most recent survey, so the 2016 Adult Inpatient Survey was used for comparison. Our comparison across NHS services does not adjust for differences in survey populations; therefore, the results may not be directly comparable.

For more information please see Care Quality Commission, Surveys.

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