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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

An interprofessional approach to improving paediatric medication safety

Moira Stewart1*, Joanna Purdy2, Neil Kennedy1 and Anne Burns3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Child Health, Queen's University Belfast, Grosvenor Road, BT12 6BP, Belfast, Northern Ireland

2 Centre for Excellence in Interprofessional Education, School of Dentistry, Queen's University Belfast, Grosvenor Road, BT12 6BP, Belfast, Northern Ireland

3 Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, Grosvenor Road, BT12 6BP, Belfast, Northern Ireland

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BMC Medical Education 2010, 10:19  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-10-19

Published: 19 February 2010



Safe drug prescribing and administration are essential elements within undergraduate healthcare curricula, but medication errors, especially in paediatric practice, continue to compromise patient safety. In this area of clinical care, collective responsibility, team working and communication between health professionals have been identified as key elements in safe clinical practice. To date, there is limited research evidence as to how best to deliver teaching and learning of these competencies to practitioners of the future.


An interprofessional workshop to facilitate learning of knowledge, core competencies, communication and team working skills in paediatric drug prescribing and administration at undergraduate level was developed and evaluated. The practical, ward-based workshop was delivered to 4th year medical and 3rd year nursing students and evaluated using a pre and post workshop questionnaire with open-ended response questions.


Following the workshop, students reported an increase in their knowledge and awareness of paediatric medication safety and the causes of medication errors (p < 0.001), with the greatest increase noted among medical students. Highly significant changes in students' attitudes to shared learning were observed, indicating that safe medication practice is learnt more effectively with students from other healthcare disciplines. Qualitative data revealed that students' participation in the workshop improved communication and teamworking skills, and led to greater awareness of the role of other healthcare professionals.


This study has helped bridge the knowledge-skills gap, demonstrating how an interprofessional approach to drug prescribing and administration has the potential to improve quality and safety within healthcare.