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Our next Simple Action day: overdose emergency kits

14 March, 2017 at 2:50 pm, by
The next Simple Action day will be on Friday 31 March, organised in association with Stephanie VandenBerg of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). Stephanie is an emergency physician herself, and a Clinical Lecturer at the University of Calgary, currently studying epidemiology at LSHTM.
Use our Eventbrite page to tell us you’re coming.

The issue

There is a huge problem with drug overdose in urban and rural communities in North America and in Europe, specifically opiate (heroin, morphine, oxycodone, tablet and IV form) overdose. This is a medication that physicians prescribe for pain however is so good at treating pain, that people easily become dependent on it. When their physician decides to lower their dose and cut off their prescription all together, many, many people will buy these tablets from the black market (their drug dealer). Due to the way the drug works on the body, one of the deadly side effects of the any opiate medication is that is causes a person to stop breathing, which leads to heart attack and brain death. 
This article in the Guardian describes the problem in the UK context:
The good news is we have an antidote to the medication. Naloxone (trade name Narcan) is a medication that is currently available as an injection into the muscle (like a flu jab) and reverses the effects of the opiate – literally, wakes them up and brings them back from the dead. 
Recently, 100s of people have been dying because their drug dealers are “lacing” (mixing) their drug with a cheap substitute called fentanyl. The problem with fentanyl is that it is 10-100x stronger than what the person was used to getting in to their tablet that they bought from their dealer (like a bartender making your drink with 80% alcohol and you not being aware) and is resulting in a overdose – person stops breathing, turns blue, dies. 

The information design problem

For years, street nurses, paramedics and police have carried injectable naloxone with them for emergencies where someone looks like they have overdosed and are not breathing, which can literally save the patients life if it is given right when a nurse/paramedic or police arrive. However, because of stigma with drug use, a lot of people are overdosing and no one calls the police because they fear everyone will get arrested. The solution has been to rapidly hand-out as many of these antidote kits as possible – to emergency department patients, pharmacies, clinics – all for free. The problem is, people don’t know how to use them and the medical community’s approach is complex, involving red tape and hours of teaching sessions that are redundant, clumsy and ineffecient.
A re-design of two components (1. recognizing an overdose; 2. how to respond) would make the use of this antidote more user friendly and improve education so people who use and misuse drugs, even on a periodic and recreational basis, can live healthier lives.

What is a Simple Action day?

It’s like a design jam or a hackathon. We get together for a day and come up with solutions. After the day some of us take the problem away to finish (a day is never enough) and sometimes students pick it up as a project. It’s good fun, and worthwhile. If you’d like to come, please sign up at our Eventbrite page.

A design pattern for the Oscars

27 February, 2017 at 5:21 pm, by

The mix-up at the Oscars was an information design fail. So here’s a design pattern for announcers’ cue cards, downloadable here: cue card design pattern.

Brilliant new guidance on unfair contract terms

24 October, 2016 at 4:28 pm, by

Full marks to the Competition and Markets Authority for a great new initiative to help businesses understand the Consumer Rights Act 2015. They found through a survey that fewer than half of businesses understood their obligations, so now they’ve produced some clear guides about the key issues, including videos which you can view on YouTube.



Design of Understanding is back

27 September, 2016 at 10:43 am, by


It’s great to see the Design of Understanding conference is back. Organised by Max Gadney of the design agency After the Flood, these days were hugely inspiring when he ran them at the St Bride Institute in London each January. This one is on health design, on 29 November 2016 at the Google Campus in London. And it’s free of charge. You can book on Eventbrite.

Out of sight, out of mind: the digital weak spot

26 July, 2016 at 3:23 pm, by

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 14.10.34

Last year the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) scrapped the paper tax discs we used to display in our car windscreens. Now these have been scrapped, on the grounds that enforcers can look up online to see if a car is taxed.

But according to the Financial Times (see picture) the lack of a physical presence is having a serious impact on compliance. Some of this may be because people think it’s easier to dodge the tax. But I’d be surprised if it wasn’t also because the lack of a physical reminder makes it easier to forget to renew. Although the DVLA sends out reminders when the payment is due, in past years I have found this to be unreliable. When I read the story I went online to check if my car was taxed. It would have been easier had I been able to just step outside and take a look.

The permanent physical presence of paper – glancable, archivable, markable – is easily forgotten in the rush to a digital future. If ‘glancable’ is not a real word, then it should be – it’s why we put sticky notes on the fridge or write to-do lists. These things give abstract ideas, like our future tasks and commitments, a concrete presence in the room with us.