Safer naming and labelling of medicines

The Commission works with national and international partners to improve the safety of medicines naming and labelling.

National Standard for Labelling Dispensed Medicines

The National Standard for Labelling Dispensed Medicines (the Standard) guides consistent presentation of medicines information on the dispensed medicine label. This includes what information to include on the label, where it should be placed on the label, and how it should be formatted. The Standard will help to ensure that all consumers can locate and understand the information about how to take their medicines safely and effectively. Standardised and consistent presentation of medicine-related information has the potential to improve health outcomes.

The Standard is for all health professionals who dispense medicines and describes standards and supporting strategies that align with dispensing best practice. It was developed based on best practice, consultation, governance and legislative requirements underpinned by research, including:

Displaying the active ingredient name on the label is consistent with Active ingredient prescribing including the principles for including the brand name.

National Standard for User-applied Labelling of Injectable Medicines, Fluids and Lines

The National Standard for User-applied Labelling of Injectable Medicines, Fluids and Lines (the Labelling Standard) replaces the previous editions of the National recommendations for user-applied labelling of injectable medicines, fluids and lines (the Labelling Recommendations).

The Labelling Standard applies to all clinical areas in Australian health services where injectable medicines and fluids are administered. It is a mandatory requirement for meeting the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards (second edition) – in particular the Medication Safety Standard.

A4 label education posters

Labelling Standard labels 

National Tall Man Lettering

The Commission developed Australia’s National Tall Man Lettering List  to reduce the risk of medicine selection errors. The Commission supports the use of Tall Man lettering as part of a multifaceted approach to reducing risks associated with confusable medicine names.

Other presentations of medicine information for safety

The Recommendations for Terminology, Abbreviations and Symbols used in Medicines Documentation set out principles for safe, clear and consistent medicines terminology for paper-based systems. These include safe terms, abbreviations and dose designations for medicines. This can help to eliminate the use of ambiguous error-prone terminology and promote patient safety.

The National Guidelines for On-Screen Display of Medicines Information for clinicians and consumers provide consistent, unambiguous terms and processes for on-screen display of medicines information in health information systems. These include presentation of medicine names, numbers and units of measure and recommendations for a consistent display format and order.