A possible way to solve Medication Errors

Mar 3, 2017

Have you ever suffered from the drug treatment even you are prescribed with the correct medications?
One of the reasons is – Medication Errors

In the process of a drug treatment, healthcare providers or patients themselves may get confused by the medications because of their confusing look-alike names, and thus picking the wrong medications to take. This kind of confusion errors caused by the look-alike drug name problem could harm patients’ safety and health.

Mr Hailing Wang, a PhD candidate at the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering, might be able to solve the problem!

Mr. Hailiang Wang, under the supervision of Dr. Calvin Or, focuses on the applications of Human Factors Engineering to address the problems for medication safety in his thesis. In the experiments, Mr. Wang examined how task-and-environment-related interventions (e.g. emphasising the differences between two look-alike drug names, adopting consistent name formats on prescriptions and drug packages, and hinting nurses the positions of target medications using an indicator light) affect the performance in visual searching of medications that have look-alike names. He established and used a high fidelity simulated pharmacy where nurses were asked to read a prescription and search a target medication from amounts of medications. Mr. Wang also conducted an experiment in which an eye tracker was applied to examine nurses’ eye-gaze behaviors when the nurses searched for medications. The eye-tracker tracked how often the nurses looked at the labels of the medications and how much time they fixated on the labels. Understanding the eye-gaze behaviors can reflect how hard an individual experienced in visual searching of medications with confusing names. The project has significant implications for medication management and patient safety.

A participant tries to identify the correct medication from the shelf after reading a prescription


Champion of the 2016 Student Project Competition by HKIE SSC

Mr. Wang’s PhD thesis was recognized by the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers-Safety Specialist Committee (HKIE-SSC) and he won the Champion in the 2016 HKIE-SSC Student Project Competition (Doctorate Group). Mr. Ka-kui Chan, BBS, JP (Chairman of Construction Industry Council) and Ir Dr. C. M. Ho (Chairman of the Student Project Competition 2016) presented the award to Mr. Wang at the Annual Dinner of the HKIE-SSC held on Jan 13, 2017. The event also provided engineering students with an open platform to demonstrate their engineering capabilities and share the learning experience in the safety and health regime. It also allowed students to explore safety and health engineering for a touch of both life-critical systems and popular science innovations.


(From left to right) Dr. Calvin Or (supervisor), Mr. Hailiang Wang (winner), Mr. Ka-kui Chan, BBS, JP (Chairman of Construction Industry Council), and Ir Dr. C. M. Ho (Chairman of the Student Project Competition 2016)