Labelling medicines

Labelling of injectable medicines, fluids and lines has been identified as a significant patient safety issue and is a recognised risk in the safe administration of injectable medicines.

Clear, standardised labelling of injectable medicines and fluids by the user at the point of preparation should help to reduce the risk of medicine administration errors.

National labelling recommendations

In November 2010, Australia’s Health Ministers, including the South Australian Health Minister, endorsed the National Recommendations for User-applied Labelling of Medicines, Fluids and Lines for implementation in Australian health services. These standards look at:

  • what should be labelled
  • what should be included on the label
  • where the label should be placed.

In 2015 the Labelling Recommendations were reviewed and updated to the National Standard for User-applied Labelling of Injectable Medicines, Fluids and Lines. The Labelling Standard expands on the previous Labelling Recommendations to include:

  • labelling of containers in perioperative settings
  • colour coded pre-printed medicine labels for use on dedicated continuous infusion lines
  • colour coding by medicine class in accordance with the Anaesthetic Labelling Standard
  • labelling of liquid medicines for oral, enteral and inhalational use
  • labelling of locked catheters
  • labelling of non-injectable medicines and fluids prepared in the same area as injectable medicines, and colour coding with a red St Andrews Cross watermark.


South Australian hospitals have the opportunity to submit suggestions and feedback (DOC 78KB) through the South Australian Change Register. Amendments made to the state register will be submitted to the national register. Major amendments will only be considered if accompanied by supporting audit data.

SA Health's Policy Directive

SA Health's user-applied labelling of injectable medicines, fluids and lines policy (PDF 120KB) supports the national recommendations.

All SA Health employees, and persons who provide services on behalf of SA Health involved in the preparation and administration of injectable medicines, fluids and lines must adhere to this policy.

Ordering labels

South Australian public hospitals should order their labels via the Oracle Corporate System.

Implementation pack

Information developed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care to assist in implementing the Labelling Recommendations includes:

  • Implementation resources
    • education posters
    • labelling in perioperative settings
    • interventional cardiology and radiology settings
    • intensive care settings
    • pre-printed medicine line labels for dedicated continuous infusions.

Other information

Further information

For further information on medication labelling, contact Medication Safety and Pharmaceutical Reforms.