Error Proofing Suicide

Here is a process improvement idea; you should make it easy for people to get something right and difficult for them to get it wrong.   Classic examples include flat pack furniture that only fits together one way, or the fact that all around the world a red light means stop.

The converse principle also exists, making something difficult to get right and easy to get wrong (ever filled in a tax form?)  Usually this is a bad thing, but not always.

In a recent Freakonomics post they bemoan the fact that in the UK you can’t buy pain killers in big bottles of 200.  Instead all you can get are blister packs containing 20 tablets and these tablets are larger then the US equivalent.

Why is this?  Is it because Boots the Chemist make a bigger margin on bigger tablets?

Apparently not, it reduces suicide levels.

It is easy to grab a handful of 100 small paracetamol tablets and swill them down with a pint of whiskey.  In the UK however opening all those packets and popping out every pill will result in you loosing the will to live, before you loose the will to live.

Making it difficult to get right…


Error ProofingImage by Sarah G

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