27 September 2016

About medication safety

Medication safety is a key initiative of the Quality Improvement and Change Management Unit.

Every year in Australia almost 200 million prescriptions are dispensed in the Australian health system.

In a 2 week period, the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that approximately 69 per cent of the population have taken at least 1 medication and 91 per cent of older people will have taken medicines.1

It is estimated that up to 140,000 hospital admissions each year are associated with problems with the use of medicines.1

Medicines account for up to 20 per cent of all things that go wrong in health care and are estimated to cost $380 million per year in the public hospital system.1

Medication safety is therefore a key strategic goal for the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (external site). A number of key projects have been established at state and national levels to improve medication safety for patients in Australia.

The WA Medication Safety Strategic Plan 2015-20

The Western Australian Medication Safety Strategic Plan 2015-20 (the Strategic Plan) articulates the vision and system-wide priorities for medication safety and quality improvements in WA Health in alignment with the Western Australian Strategic Plan for Safety and Quality in Health Care 2013-17, the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards - Medication Safety Standard 4 and the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care Framework.

The Strategic Plan focuses on the prevention of adverse medication events by supporting clinicians and empowering patients to achieve best practice in medication management through implementation of proven and sustainable strategies integrated across all health settings.

The WA Medication Safety Operational Plan 2015-20

The WA Medication Safety Operational Plan (the Operational Plan) 2015-20 was developed in consultation with Area Health Services prior to 30 June 2016 to provide objectives and deliverables assigned to the key activities outlined in the Strategic Plan. We take this opportunity to thank Health Service staffs who contributed to its development and share this with you for your consideration.The Operational Plan does not aim to provide exhaustive coverage of the work that is underway across WA Health; rather it is structured to provide an overview of the priorities for the next 5 years. Each of the strategies has been mapped to the appropriate National Safety and Quality Health Services Standard for medication safety to assist health services in providing evidence of quality improvement activities for their organisation.

The Operational Plan is a working document and may be revised each quarter to reflect updated priorities or new initiatives. As changes are made, the updated Operational Plan will be available.


  1. Australian Council for Safety and Quality in Health Care. Second national report on patient safety – Improving medication safety (external site): Commonwealth of Australia; 2002

More information

Medicines and Technology Unit
Address: 3 Forrest Place, Perth
Email: DoH.MedicinesandTechnologyUnit@health.wa.gov.au 

Last reviewed: 27-09-2016
Produced by

Patient Safety and Clinical Quality