Know, Check, Ask for Safer Medicines Use

Everyone has a role to play in ensuring medicines safety, including healthcare professionals and patients. There are a number of useful resources from the HSE and WHO that aim to support safer medicines use. 

Before you take it

Patients and the public 

Before taking a medicine patients should: 

  • KNOW their medicine 
  • CHECK the dose and time 
  • ASK their pharmacist, or other healthcare professional, if they are unsure. 

Patients can also keep a list of all the medicines and supplements they take and keep this up to date. 

PSI Patient Charter 

The PSI Patient Charter outlines what patients can expect from their community pharmacist and how patients can also help their pharmacist to meet the expectations set out in the charter. 


As medicines experts, pharmacists have a critical role to play in ensuring the safe and rational use of medicines. They are well placed, both in community and hospital settings, to educate and advise patients on the correct use of their medicines.  

Before a medicine is given to a patient, the pharmacist should: 

KNOW the medicine. 

CHECK that they have the right: 

  • Patient 
  • Medicine 
  • Route 
  • Dose 
  • Time 

ASK the patient if they understand. 

Pharmacists and other healthcare professionals can also encourage people on medicines to keep an up-to-date list of their medicines and explain why it can be helpful. 

Useful resources 

The World Health Organization (WHO) Global Patient Safety Challenge: Medication Without Harm introduced a strategic framework in 2017 focused on improving medicines safety in three key action areas: high-risk situations, polypharmacy and transitions of care. WHO also selected ‘Medication Without Harm’ as the theme for World Patient Safety Day 2022. Patients and healthcare professionals are encouraged by WHO to “KNOW. CHECK. ASK.”  

 A number of posters are available from the WHO. 

HSE National Medication Safety Programme (Safermeds) 

Adverse Drug Events are the 3rd most common type of adverse events in the Irish Healthcare System with up to 10% of emergency admissions in those aged over 65 being related to adverse drug reactions. Adherence to medication averages 50% with approximately half of this unintentional in multiple studies (Source: Safermeds). 

The HSE Safermeds programme aims to work with patients, healthcare professionals and organisations to reduce patient harm associated with medicines or their omission.  

A number of tools are available for patients and healthcare professionals to improve the safe use of medicines including:  

Video from the WHO on medication safety and the Know Check Ask campaign