patient and pharmacist

Theme Leads: Professor Bryony Dean Franklin and Dr Graham Cooke

Medication errors account for a high proportion of avoidable harms within healthcare (Avery-BMJQualSaf-2021). Technological interventions represent promising solutions to patient safety challenges in general and medication safety challenges in particular, but are often introduced without evidence of their benefits, and without understanding how they need to be optimised to avoid new harms and other unintended consequences. Patients are rarely involved in their development and evaluation. Information about medication is also a key area that can both enhance and hinder patient safety.

Our work


This theme will address effective patient safety practices, specifically the safe use of medications. We will explore various patient safety practices and systems designed to improve the safety of medication use. These include interventions relating to technologies and medication-related information aimed at both healthcare staff, patients, and their carers. We will include patient perspectives and meaningful patient/public involvement at each stage of our research, building on our experience involving lay people in all stages of the research process.

Projects in this theme include:

  • increasing use of barcodes to confirm the identity of patients and their medication on hospital wards;
  • testing ways of identifying hospital patients most at risk of medication-related harm, to help pharmacy staff prioritise which patients’ medications are reviewed each day and which patients to see in person;
  • finding out whether a formal ‘user-testing’ process can help in writing prescribing guidelines that are less likely to be misinterpreted and therefore less likely to lead to prescribing errors;
  • a trial to evaluate the acceptability and efficacy of training for unpaid lay carers administering medications for someone dying at home - a situation in which medications can be complex to prepare and administer;
  • exploring whether women who have given birth and are at risk of blood clots continue giving themselves anticoagulant (“blood thinning”) injections after they go home, and what affects this decision. This will help us develop ways of supporting people in continuing to use this medication when it is important for them to do so.