Thank you for printing our content at
This site is archived and is no longer updated.

Please visit for up­-to-­date information from the Health Quality & Safety Commission.

Posted 30 Mar 2015 in Medication

The end of March marks the end of the Open for better care campaign’s focus on reducing harm from high-risk medicines.

A big thank you all those who have helped raise awareness on how to reduce harm from high-risk medicines.

In New Zealand, between July 2007 and June 2013, 132 medicine-related serious adverse events were reported by health providers, of which 23 related to opioids, 19 to anticoagulants and seven to insulin.

The campaign focused on medicines at the top of internationally recognised high-risk medicine lists:

  • anticoagulants such as warfarin and heparin
  • opioids such as morphine, oxycodone, fentanyl and methadone
  • insulin
  • concentrated potassium injections
  • oral methotrexate.

Each of the months had the following themes on reducing harm from high-risk medicines:

  • the case for change
  • identify and mitigate error and harm
  • partner with patients and whanau
  • prevent error and harm
  • safe use of opioids.

Highlights included a series of webinars, Let’s PLAN pharmacy week; series of ‘one steps’ on insulin and potassium; posters with advice for health professionals who prescribe and administer oral methotrexate, heparin and insulin and the health literacy quiz and poster on communicating so people will understand. A number of patient and clinician stories helped to highlight the importance of reducing harm from high-risk medicines.

Web pages have been set up to support three of the five high-risk medicines (opioids and warfarin to follow):

Some final resources for the high-risk medicines focus have recently been released:

The medication safety programme will continue its work on high-risk medicines with the safe use of opioids collaborative, the regular medication safety watch and release of more ‘one steps’ throughout the 2015.

With the end of the high-risk medicines focus, we now turn our attention to the fifth campaign topic – reducing harm from falls in care settings.