Patient Safety Week: 5–11 November 2017

Patient Safety Week (PSW) was held from 5–11 November 2017, with a focus on medication safety. This is in line with the World Health Organization’s five-year medication safety challenge.

We know that harm is occurring because people are taking the wrong medicines, so we produced resources to encourage conversations between consumers and health professionals. 

Working together

We again worked with ACC to deliver PSW, and also had support from PHARMAC. We were fortunate to be well supported by a skilled ideas group that included representatives from most areas of the sector.

PSW2017 A3Poster ENGLISHResources

We took a fresh approach to resources this year and used a suite of illustrated characters to communicate our messages.

Resources can be viewed here (orders closed 20 September 2017).


After much consultation with medication safety experts, PSW's medication safety theme is about improving communication about medication between health professionals and consumers. The main questions we communicated throughout PSW were:

  • Lets Talk Medicines logoWhat is my medicine called?
  • What is it for?
  • When and how should I take it?

We view these questions as a starting point, that will lead to a bigger conversation to cover things like side effects, the impact of stopping medicines, taking several medicines and so on.


PSW 17The audience for PSW were people with chronic conditions who are long-term users of multiple medicines, with an emphasis on Māori and people with English as a second language. We also talked to family and whānau (support networks) of these consumers.

The other audience for PSW was our delivery audience, health professionals who prescribe, dispense or administer medicines.

For health professionals

Health professionals were encouraged to consider:

  • the importance of giving consumers time – their questions are valid
  • what is common for you may be unusual, confusing and challenging for consumers 
  • knowledge is power – the more a consumer knows, the less likely they are to make a mistake with their medicines 
  • cost could be a barrier to consumers filling prescriptions and continuing to take medication – talk to them about this 
  • practising the three steps to better health literacy: find out what people know, build health literacy skills and knowledge, and check you were clear.

In the community

We are excited to see so many providers have taken part in Patient Safety Week: Click here to see their creative initiatives.

More information

Last updated 23/05/2019