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National Patient Safety Agency

Free e-learning module providing guidance on the safe use of injectable medicines


29 NOVEMBER 2008


A free e-learning module is now available on the BMJ Learning website for all junior medical staff and other healthcare employees, providing guidance on the safe use of injectable medicines.


The NPSA commissioned BMJ learning to produce this free service following the publication in March 2007 of the NPSA’s Patient Safety Alert promoting the safer use of injectable medicines.  The Alert made a number of recommendations to improve the safety of injectable medicines.  These recommendations included providing training for healthcare staff involved in prescribing, administering and monitoring injectable medicines and ensuring there are up-to-date protocols and procedures for prescribing, preparing and administering injectable medicines in all clinical areas.


There are more reported incidents of serious errors in the use of injectable medicines than with other forms of medicines.  The Patient Safety Alert highlighted that the NPSA received around 800 reports a month to its National Reporting and Learning System (NRLS) relating to injectable medicines between January 2005 and June 2006.  The majority of these resulted in no or low harm to patients.  However, there were 25 incidents of death and 28 of serious harm reported between January 2005 and June 2006.


The new e-learning module is an interactive and visual tool which provides case studies and examples of incidents associated with injectable medicines.  The module provides step by step guidance on how to avoid such incidents.  The session takes approximately one hour to complete and the user is tested on their knowledge at the start and end of the module.


David Cousins, Head of safer medication and medical specialities at the NPSA, said: “This new and easily accessible module aims to help junior doctors and other healthcare staff understand how to avoid some of the common errors in prescribing, preparing and administering medicines by injection.  This e-learning module supplements a series of ongoing Rapid Response Reports from the NPSA reinforcing the safe use of injectable medicines.  I’m delighted with the very positive feedback we’ve already had about the e-learning module and would encourage all healthcare staff to test their knowledge.”






Notes for editors:





  • The NPSA issued Patient Safety Alert 20 in 2007 to provide guidance on ‘The Safe Use of Injectable Medicines’.




  • The National Patient Safety Agency encompasses the National Research Ethics Service, National Reporting and Learning Service and the National Clinical Assessment Service. Our vision is to lead and contribute to improved, safe patient care by informing, supporting and influencing healthcare individuals and organisations. Each division works within its sphere of expertise to improve patient outcomes.