Information to die for

Think informational design decisions aren’t life and death? Think again.

As reported recently, bad design can kill. Two people died when they were accidentally administered potassium chloride (which is poisonous) instead of sodium chloride (which is not poisonous). This tragedy occurred because the vial labels for both these substances were very similar in design and appearance.

Neil MacKinnon, a pharmacy professor at Dalhousie University said it best: “If you ask any kind of front-line nurse or pharmacist, they would say ‘Gee, this isn’t rocket science, why can’t they make labelling clearer – put things in different size fonts, in different colours?’”

To which I would respond: Duh!

To avoid confusion, I would redesign this label to read:

HEY YOU!!!
THIS IS POTASSIUM CHLORIDE!
IT WILL KILL WHOEVER YOU GIVE IT TO!!
STOP NOW!
Yes, it’s crude, but so what?
If the bottle had had this label, there would be fewer dead people.
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