A research-led project to generate design guidelines for the packaging of injectable medicines, thereby ensuring patient safety.
Halls S. (2008) Design for Patient Safety: a guide to the labelling and packaging of injectable medicines, London, NHS National Patient Safety Agency and Helen Hamlyn Trust ISBN 978-1-906624-02-6
According to the National Patient Safety Agency, nearly ten per cent of all adverse medical incidents reported in 2004/5 involved medication. Of these, a quarter involved injectable medicines - a hugely disproportionate number given that only a small minority of medication is given via injection. The term injectable medicines refers to drugs that come in ampoules, vials, prefilled syringes and infusion bags. Whilst there are a number of factors that affect the incidence of error, one study has estimated that a third of incidents are caused by confusion over packaging and labelling.
The research looked at problems with existing designs, which are caused primarily by an emphasis on promoting the company brand so that all drugs are packaged in the same corporate livery. Work was conducted closely with a user group of healthcare staff at all levels to discover how medicines are stored, prescribed, dispensed and administered. The aim was to establish what information was vital for staff to be able to give the medication safely.
Findings from the user study were distilled into separate design points, each of which formed an illustrated double page spread in a booklet. It is intended to be a best practice guide aimed at packaging designers and pharmaceutical firms, as well as being a reference guide for those involved in NHS procurement.