Medicines Safety

While Medicines are hugely important in healthcare, they also have the potential to cause problems.

Unsafe medication practice and errors can cause serious harm to patients due to: side effects; adverse reactions; misuse; and how medicines are prescribed, dispensed, administered or monitored.

There are also financial burdens for the health service.

In Northern Ireland (NI) we have an established infrastructure to support medication safety within primary and secondary care. We are fortunate to benefit from effective systems for the safe prescribing, dispensing and administration of medicines. Our health service has developed these robust systems over many years, however, we know that errors can still occur, and we are committed to supporting improvements that aim to reduce or prevent the risk of harm to patients.

The Medicines Optimisation Quality Framework (MOQF) addresses the priority areas for medicines optimisation through ten Quality Standards within the three overarching Quality 2020 domains.

Improving medication safety and promoting an active medicine safety culture is a priority area.

In March 2017 the World Health Organisation (WHO) launched their third global patient safety challenge ‘Medication Without Harm’.

The goal is to reduce severe, avoidable medication-related harm globally by 50% over the next 5 years.

In September 2020 the Department published ‘Transforming medication safety in Northern Ireland ’a 5 year strategy in response to the World Health Organisation’s Third Global Patient Safety Challenge ‘Medication without Harm’. The response sets out commitments to improve safe practices with medicines and support a medication safety culture within our population. The commitments have been informed and shaped by those who receive and deliver safe and effective care across NI.

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