Improving the governance of medication safety

Summary: Unsafe medication practices and subsequent medication errors are the leading cause of avoidable harm in health systems globally- with an estimated US$ 42 billion spent on the impact of medication errors in litigation costs, increased length of stay and increased complications. Ensuring medication safety is complex; partly due to the communication and interaction between the different professions involved and also the interplay between these professions, technology and organisations. Professional and organisational cultures are two important concepts within patient safety more generally and medication safety specifically; however, there is limited research identifying a) the different cultures associated with different professions and their impact on professional practice in relation to medication safety and b) the interplay of professional and organisational cultures together within this context. It is suggested that governing medication safety may be more challenging compared to other patient safety initiatives (e.g. falls and VTE prevention) and therefore understanding the role of organisational and professional cultures could be illuminating in understanding why governing medication safety is problematic. A scoping review on the role of professional and organisational cultures within medication safety has identified key themes associated with both concepts of culture which may act as a barrier or facilitator to improving medication safety. The next step will be to utilise ethnographic methods, for example, direct observations, interviews and documentary analysis, in different organisational settings and at different levels, to understand the role of professional and organisational cultures within the governance of medication safety.

Start date and duration: September 2016- September 2019

Partners and collaborators: Funded by the Health Foundation

Supervisors: Professor Naomi Fulop, Professor Martin Marshall, Dr Simon Turner and Dr Yogini Jani.