Safety and Quality > Our Work > Medication Safety

The Commission works to improve the safety and quality of medication use in Australia. We lead and coordinate national initiatives to reduce medication errors and harm from medicines.

Medication safety is also part of the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards.

Information in these pages can help health service organisations and clinicians identify and implement strategies to improve medication safety.

Hospital medication charts

Medication charts can help standardise medication management and increase medication safety.

The main national hospital medication charts in Australia are:

  • National inpatient medication charts (NIMCs)
  • Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme Hospital Medication Chart (PBS HMC).

Medication reconciliation

Medication reconciliation means that the medicines the patient should be prescribed match those that are prescribed.

Safer medicines administration

The Commission and the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) have developed joint safety statements intended to reduce harm from accidental and erroneous injection of substances.  The statements were developed following approaches from the clinical anaesthetic community, and supported by analyses of safety incidents.

 

Medicine safety in paediatrics

The Commission has developed a position statement on paediatric prescribing with support from professional organisations and colleges. The statement promotes best practice in prescribing, dispensing and administering of medicines for paediatric patients.

High Risk Medicines

High risk medicines (HRMs) are medicines that have an increased risk of causing significant patient harm or death if they are misused or used in error.

HRMS include:

  • Medicines with a narrow therapeutic index
  • Medicines that present a high risk when
    • Administered via the wrong route or
    • Other medication management system errors occur.

Quality use of medicines in hospitals

The National Indicators for Quality Use of Medicines (QUM) in Australian Hospitals 2014 support measurement of safety and quality of medicines use for quality improvement purposes, and help health services to drive changes in healthcare practice.

Medication safety in mental health

Medication is an integral part of treatment for many people living with serious mental illness, who often use medication for years. The side effects of medications used to treat mental illness can lead to the development or exacerbation of physical health problems. Addressing medication safety in mental health can contribute to tackling this problem.

Medication safety tools and resources

Tools and resources for medication safety include:

  • Self-assessment tools
  • Evidence briefs on interventions to improve medication safety
  • Education and training on medication safety and quality.