A project is aiming to improve patient safety for injections – where mistakes are currently made in around a third of doses, researchers say.
One review published in 2013 suggested that about 35% of injections given in hospital include at least one error, though these are often minor and unlikely to harm the patient.
Dr Matthew Jones, a pharmacist of the University of Bath, will examine whether changing the injected medicines guidelines can reduce issues, improve safety and potentially save the NHS time and money.
“Mistakes can be caused by unclear or ambiguous advice and patients can be harmed,” Dr Jones said.
“There’s lots of research about the best way to provide written information for patients but not about how professionals write for each other.
“I want to see if we can take techniques for improving patient information and apply that to information written by one professional for another professional.”
Dr Jones said injections are some of the most complicated types of medicine, with a high error rate.
Guidelines are typically written by pharmacists but used by nurses, he added.
The first part of his two-year project will see 30 nurses giving feedback on existing guidance to modify it so they find it easier to follow and use.
Dr Jones will then take the original and modified guidance into hospitals and ask hundreds of nurses in the middle of shifts to perform injections on an artificial arm.
They will be randomly allocated a version of the guidance and observed to see if they make any mistakes, before being asked of their experience with the document.
It is hoped the improving the guidance will reduce mistakes and could speed up the process of giving injections.
“Making up an injectable medicine and then injecting it is a complicated, convoluted process,” Dr Jones said.
“Most mistakes will be minor, but of course not all, and it’s a risk.”
Dr Jones will also assess the potential economic benefits of cutting down on mistakes during injections, such as reducing additional treatments or legal costs.
He will collaborate with Bath’s Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, the Universities of Leeds and Bristol, and UCL.
The pharmacist has been granted a National Institute for Health Research Fellowship for the work.