How do we rise to the challenge of medication safety? National Medicines Symposium 2020

The 10th National Medicines Symposium (NMS), hosted by NPS MedicineWise with the theme ‘Rising to the Medication Safety Challenge’, is now underway and being broadcast to a virtual audience across Australia.

Delegates this morning heard from Professor Amanda Wheeler, Professor of Mental Health about how medication safety is “everyone’s problem”.

“Medication-related problems in Australia cause around 250,000 hospital admissions and 400,000 emergency department visits every year, costing approx. $1.4 billion, but most of this estimated harm is potentially preventable,” said Professor Wheeler.

“While it’s well known that transitioning between healthcare providers and settings within Australia’s complex health system are high-risk occasions for medication errors, errors in medication records can actually occur at every point of care,” she said.

Some of the ways to reduce medication-related harm includes timely access to an accurate, comprehensive and shared digital health record, and health professionals actively involving consumers and carers in the transfer of information and management of their medicines as they have most to lose in a disconnected health system.

“Medication safety is indeed everyone’s business and the multiple health professionals involved in any consumer’s healthcare journey need to share accountability for adverse medicines-related outcomes and seek to reverse this trend,” said Professor Wheeler.

NPS MedicineWise CEO Adj A/Prof Steve Morris said improving medicines safety requires action from all health and care professionals, across multiple settings and providers.

“If we are to create the shift necessary to reduce medication errors and adverse events, the consumer has to be at the centre of our efforts, informed and empowered to be truly medicinewise, so they can play an active role in managing their medicines and being their own safety advocate,” said Mr Morris.

Comedian Tim Ferguson is compering the event and has lived with multiple sclerosis (MS) for the past 30 years.

“Today’s event highlights the importance of all the different parts of the sector working together to look after individuals’ health problems,” said Mr Ferguson.

“It’s great to be part of this important, positive and lively conversation about medication safety, which I hope will continue after today’s symposium.”

This afternoon, participants will hear more about person-centred approaches to medication safety and medication safety across settings. Lightning talks will cover topics as broad as opioids and surgery pain, living with dementia, collaborating for better patient care, cancer treatment information for patients and harnessing prescribing data.

Through the innovative digital platform participants will work together to discuss how we can collectively rise to the medication safety challenge.

About the National Medicines Symposium

Hosted by NPS MedicineWise, the annual National Medicines Symposium (NMS) brings together the most influential organisations, individuals and decision makers in the health sector to discuss and debate key issues around quality use of medicines and health technologies, and to encourage collective impact with a focus on the needs of the consumer.

The theme for NMS 2020 is ‘Rising to the medication safety challenge’, in the context of medicines safety recently being named a National Health Priority Area and it also being the focus of the 3rd World Health Organization Global Patient Safety Challenge: Medication Without Harm.

Read more and check out the NMS 2020 program at


    Media contact

    Matthew Harris, NPS MedicineWise Communications & PR adviser: (02) 8217 9229, 0419 618 365 or [email protected]