Dr Brian Edwards, a Principal Consultant at NDA, lives and breathes pharmacovigilance. He has just been awarded a Fellowship of ISoP for his contribution to Pharmacovigilance over many years. Throughout his career, he has seen every angle of it: clinical, academic, industrial and regulatory.

During the last 20 years, his focus has been directed towards a specific reason for adverse events in the use of medical products: human error.

“At the turn of the millennium, an important report from the US Institute of Medicine with the title ‘To err is human’ was released. The report, which caught my attention, was a response to an analysis of all the adverse events that had happened in the US healthcare system. There was a discussion about what society was going to do about it. One of the solutions was risk management.”

He joined the International Society of Pharmacovigilance, ISoP, a non-profit professional organisation which promotes education, training, and encourages and supports research into the safe use of medicines around the world. Today, he chairs the ISoP Special Interest Group on Medication Errors.

“We are a group of over 60 professionals from around the world that discuss the science around medication errors and the best ways of communicating the results and knowledge by using social media. We also discuss new solutions to reduce medication errors in line with the WHO strategy of reducing medication errors by 50% globally.”

Where are the greatest hurdles for reducing human errors today?

“First of all, it’s leadership. If it isn’t clear within the system who is accountable, it leads to a dangerous blame culture. So, system design is very important in this whole topic. Then there’s communication breaking down those artificial man-made barriers which stop sectors of society talking to each other. We get more and more guidelines in good faith, but you can never make a system safer by making it more complex.”

The Author

Dr Brian Edwards

Principal Consultant

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