Medication safety

We aim to reduce the number of people in the Northern Region harmed by medication errors in our hospitals, residential aged care facilities and primary care.


As a first step, the SafeRx© initiative engineered by Waitemata DHB was rolled-out across the entire Northern Region. SafeRx© focuses on primary care and aims to promote the safe, rational and effective use of medicines by providing current and accurate information for GPs, practice nurses, practice managers, pharmacists and patients alike.


The medication safety topic for the Open for better care campaign, in partnership with First, Do No Harm in the Northern Region, is high-risk medicines and the safe use of opioids. High-risk medicines are those that have particular characteristics that mean errors in their delivery can cause serious harm. Harm from medicines occur in all DHBs, are frequently serious and many are preventable. Opioids are the medicine class most commonly implicated, with both serious harm (over-sedation and respiratory depression/arrest) and moderate harm (nausea, constipation, confusion, and addiction).

The campaign will profile activities and resources related to:

a) The case for change

b) Identifying medication errors and harm

c) Partnering with patients and families

d) Preventing and mitigating medication errors and harm, and

e) The safe use of opioids.

Coinciding with the Open for better care/First, Do No Harm patient safety campaigns will be a national Breakthrough Collaborative on the safe use of opioids in DHB hospitals. This collaborative will run for 18 months and is based on the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s (IHI) model for improvement. The goal of the collaborative will be to reduce harm from opioids in DHB hospitals, and to build capability in medication safety and quality improvement. The aim of the collaborative is to arrive at a bundle of care that can be used in DHBs to prevent opioid related harm.