What is ‘appropriate’?

What is ‘appropriate’?

For each action that a specific user needs to undertake in a specific situation, it is necessary to establish an ‘acceptable performance level’.

For some actions, this level should be set on 100%. A 100% performance indicates that this action must always be done correctly. A lower performance would involve high risks or high costs. The design of the situation, the design of the medicine, the design of the packaging, the design of the instructions must all be coordinated to reduce the risk of any occurance to minimal levels. Examples of actions where a 100% performance level should be achieved are injecting vincristine in a vein, combining certain medicines safely, avoiding overdosing, avoiding underdosing, etcetera.

This requires a risk analysis of the different actions by different users. It is clear that not all actions by all users for all medicines need to achieve this 100%.

For other actions, for specific medicines, the acceptable performance levels could be set lower. For example the disposal of remaining cough-syrup, or the correct storage of antibiotics could be set to 40%.

The principles of good information design start from the idea that the actual performance levels of each action can vary. It is essential to provide different types of information, on different levels of detail, in different formats to increase the probability that users can access and understand information.

Before this principle can be applied to the development of information about medicines, it is essential to ‘establish acceptable performance levels’. And this is where a close cooperation between all the stakeholders is necessary. It is likely that different stakeholders perceive the risk of errors and the risks of incorrect use in different ways.

As a first step, it is essential to establish what ‘best practice’ is for different types of medicines and situations. After an evaluation of this, it might be possible to provide some provisional guidelines.


This principle needs to be applied to the development of Guidelines and templates too. The performance levels of each of the actions of MAHs and of the Regulatory Authorities need to be discussed and set.