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Patient’s Medicines Bag: Saving Money and Improving Patient Safety by Reducing Drug Errors

An audit showed that the bag reduces drug errors, saving the NHS money and potentially saving lives

The award-winning saves time, money and improves patient safety with an extraordinarily simple and effective innovation. Reducing drug errors, drugs stay with the patient in hospital and ambulance staff spend less time looking for medicines. It has become universal and immediately recognisable across all the hospitals that have adopted it.

The Eureka Moment

“I was exiting from the hospital at the green entrance one day when I was approached by a gentleman requesting the use of a pen – he was trying to scratch something onto the external wall of the building. I asked him what he was doing. He replied that he had brought his elderly mother into the outpatient department for a consultation and the doctor has asked him about his mother’s medication history. He had no idea. He decided to go outside and telephone his mothers GP surgery. He took the pen and paper I offered him and spoke to the practice receptionist who relayed over the phone the practice’s medication history for his mother.”

Mary Green, PMB Project Manager

The team’s research quickly revealed a lack of clarity around the need for patients to bring their medications and medicines history to hospital or their GP’s surgery.

The research

During its development, the PMB was researched, trialled, redesigned and refined in a process involving over 1,000 patients, 16 healthcare provision areas and 28 healthcare professional groups. The research involved patient and staff questionnaires, face to face interviews, walk-throughs, counts of hand-offs and living experiments.

The Results

“a two week audit covering 240 admissions using the Patient’s Medicines Bag saved the trust approximately £7.50 per patient.”

Mary Green, PMB Project Manager

The Patient’s Medicines Bag has been proven to reduce costs and improve patient safety. As a result, it is now used by over 40 trusts across England and Wales and has been adopted internationally by countries including Canada, New Zealand and the USA and Switzerland.


The Patient’s Medicine Bag has won a range of prestigious awards including winner of the East Midlands Regional Heath and Social Care Award – Patient Safety category and finalist in the NHS in Trent Inspiring Success 2006 Awards Health and Social Care Awards – Supporting with a Purpose’ category. The project has been highly commended and featured in and public service review: Health.


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