The new drug reconciliation service introduced at Queen Mary Hospital has helped pave the way for the Hospital Authority to obtain international accreditation. The South China Morning Post reported earlier that the government wanted all public and private hospitals in Hong Kong to have their standards assessed by a common accreditation system. The authority is looking at the possibility of joining one of the main overseas hospital-accreditation bodies. William Chui Chun-ming, chief pharmacist at Queen Mary Hospital, said drug-safety programmes, including medicine reconciliation, had been a key part in hospital accreditation. In the first six months of last year, the Hospital Authority recorded 868 drug incidents. In May the World Health Organisation made recommendations on drug reconciliation at hospital admission to assure medication accuracy at transition of care. The WHO said that in some countries, up to 67 per cent of patients' drug histories had one or more errors and up to 46 per cent of medication errors occurred when new orders were written at patient admission or discharge. In the US, medication errors harmed an estimated 1.5 million people and killed several thousand patients annually, costing the country at least US$3.5 billion a year, it said. The US Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organisations included medication reconciliation requirements as part of its 2005 national patient safety goals. The commission said the process of medication reconciliation and assuring its accuracy throughout care improved patient safety. But health organisations said they needed more guidance to meet the target.