Theme 4: Enhancing the safety of medication and technology
Led by Professor Bryony Dean Franklin, this theme is working to enhance the safe use of medicines and healthcare technology.
Medication errors – avoidable mistakes in the drug treatment process – are among the leading causes of avoidable harm in healthcare systems globally, costing around $46 billion annually. We’re building on existing knowledge about medication errors and generating new evidence about the risks and benefits of technologies in healthcare, to make these interventions safer and more effective.
Our work in this theme aligns with the third World Health Organization Global Safety Challenge: Medication Without Harm. We’re working to support this challenge by tackling enduring problems, particularly those relating to prescribing patterns and behaviours, and developing human-centred technologies.
Find out more about how our researchers are building evidence to make medicines and healthcare technologies safer.
Helping professionals give medicines safely to children
For hospital patients, mistakes in the administration of medications are among the leading causes of harm. Children are most vulnerable to these types of errors and are also more commonly affected than adults, where calculating the right dose based on body weight can be complex due to the huge variations in the weight of children compared with adults. Working with the Institute of Global Health Innovation’s Helix Centre, we’ve developed computer software to support healthcare professionals through this process and make the administration of medications safer for children.
Called TouchDose, this system uses the child’s age, weight and medical information to determine the right dose and method of administration for each individual patient, providing clear instructions to guide clinicians through the process. Having tested TouchDose and demonstrated its potential in a simulation setting, we’re now pursuing clinical trials to evaluate its use in the practice.
Clearer communication between patients and professionals
When patients see different healthcare professionals in different places, mistakes can sometimes happen in communicating information about medicines. Some patients carry information about their own medicines to help with this, such as paper “passports” or apps on mobile devices. We’ve been exploring patients’ and professionals’ use of this patient-held medication information, involving patients in each stage of the research.
We’ve found that both patients and professionals find these tools helpful to communicate about medicines, so we’re now developing proposals to test a way to encourage more people to use them.
Find out more about our work that's improving the safety of medicines from Prof Bryony Dean Franklin: