Communication needed for medication safety in Canada

National summit to address this important solution to patient safety

(Toronto, ON) - A national summit was hosted today that will ultimately provide important solutions to improving communication and reducing preventable medication errors at transitions of care.

A 2008 survey by the Commonwealth Fund found that nearly one in ten adult Canadians with health problems reported receiving the wrong medication or the wrong dose from a pharmacy or hospital within the previous two years. The Canadian Adverse Events Study published in 2004 by Ross Baker and Peter Norton, estimated that as many as 24,000 Canadians die annually due to preventable adverse events (of which 24 per cent were related to medication or fluid administration) and identified improved communication and coordination among caregivers as a key driver of efforts to make patient care safer.

The summit was hosted by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP Canada), the Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI), and Canada Health Infoway (Infoway) in collaboration with key stakeholders. Collaboration between ISMP Canada and CPSI and healthcare industry stakeholders has resulted in a consensus on how to optimize communication about medication, also called "medication reconciliation", in Canada.

"Relying only on human vigilance to ensure medication safety is not enough; better communication is vital," says David U, President and CEO, ISMP Canada."With more than 20,000 commercial drug products in the marketplace, there is a significant and overdue need for a coordinated approach to reliably communicating information at all care transitions."

"Changes in practice need to occur at the national, provincial and local levels to promote a more collaborative and standardized approach to medication traceability to keep Canadian patients safe, while ensuring communication at all levels," says Hugh MacLeod, CEO, CPSI. "In working with ISMP Canada andInfoway and with the success of creating a national summit, we are one step closer to achieving this objective."

"By giving health professionals the information they need to support clinical decisions, drug information systems can help to improve medication safety and effectiveness," says Dr. Jennifer Zelmer, Senior Vice President, Clinical Adoption and Innovation with Canada Health Infoway. "We are all working to make healthcare safer, and the summit provides an opportunity to share experiences and accelerate progress."

ISMP Canada and CPSI, along with all healthcare partners, share the goal of reducing preventable medication errors that affect patients in both institutional and community settings.

About the Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI)

The Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI) is an independent not-for-profit corporation, operating collaboratively with health professionals and organizations, regulatory bodies and governments to build and advance a safer healthcare system for Canadians. CPSI performs a coordinating and leadership role across health sectors and systems, promotes leading practices and raises awareness with stakeholders, patients and the general public about patient safety.

About the Institute for Safe Medication Practices Canada (ISMP Canada)

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices Canada (ISMP Canada) is an independent national not-for-profit agency committed to the advancement of medication safety in all healthcare settings. ISMP Canada works collaboratively with the healthcare community, regulatory agencies and policy makers, provincial, national, and international patient safety organizations, the pharmaceutical industry, and the public to promote safe medication practices. ISMP Canada's mandate includes analyzing medication incidents, making recommendations for the prevention of harmful medication incidents, and facilitating quality improvement initiatives

About Infoway

Canada Health Infoway is an independent, not-for-profit organization funded by the federal government. Infoway jointly invests with every province and territory to accelerate the development and adoption of electronic health record projects in Canada. Fully respecting patient confidentiality, these secure systems will provide clinicians and patients with the information they need to better support safe care decisions and manage their own health. Accessing this vital information quickly will help foster a more modern and sustainable healthcare system for all Canadians.


For more information, contact:

Cecilia Bloxom
Director of Communications
Canadian Patient Safety Institute
Phone (780) 700-8642

Karen Schmidt
Director, Corporate/Internal Communications
Canada Health Infoway
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