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Canadian Pharmacists Association
Canadian Pharmacists Association
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CPhA Statement on Patient Safety

October 22, 2016 (Ottawa): The Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) is deeply saddened by the circumstances that led to a tragic medication error in Ontario.  We extend our sincerest condolences to the Sheldrick family during this difficult time.

Canadian pharmacists are committed to providing quality care in each and every community they serve and to consistently improving the practice of pharmacy to mitigate risks of potential medication errors. Canada’s pharmacists oversee the dispensing of more than 600 million prescriptions annually – equivalent to about 1.65 million prescriptions processed every single day. They do this work with the highest degree of integrity and commitment to patient care.

We understand the concerns raised in regards to the safety and reporting of medication errors in Canada. In addition to existing quality assurance systems across Canada, in recent years there have been significant developments led by pharmacists to put in place programs aimed at further enhancing quality and safety.  For example, in Nova Scotia, pharmacists are required to submit errors through a mandatory reporting program, SafetyNetRx, while Saskatchewan has a voluntary reporting mechanism in place, COMPASS. Furthermore, CPhA is working with key patient safety organizations such as the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) and the Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI) to develop safe prescribing tools and promote safe medication practices.  While progress is being made, we believe that further work in this important area is needed and we will continue to support such efforts across the country.

The regulatory structure in which Canadian pharmacists practice is overwhelmingly reliable and safe but, like all systems, it requires constant review to ensure continued effectiveness. CPhA strongly believes in continuously improving the systems and tools available to pharmacists and pharmacies that help them ensure that Canadians are safely and appropriately accessing their medications. Nowhere is this improvement more needed than in the area of digital health technologies. 

CPhA has long been advocating for improvements in access for pharmacists to digital health technologies such as integrated drug information systems, functional electronic health records, and a national e-prescribing system. For example, when implemented, e-prescribing can reduce the possibility of errors and allows for the integration of safety and alert systems when prescriptions are issued.  Enhancing access to these technologies will make clinical decision-making, prescribing and medication management easier by giving pharmacists the comprehensive and reliable information on patients’ medication history they need. This will have a positive impact on patient care and safety and make the dispensing of drugs safer.

CPhA is committed to continuing to work in collaboration with governments, regulators, pharmacy and patient safety organizations toward the goal of providing the best possible care for all Canadians.

About the Canadian Pharmacists Association

The Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) is the uniting national voice of pharmacy and the pharmacist profession in Canada. As pharmacists undertake an enhanced role in the delivery of health care services, CPhA ensures that the profession is recognized as a national leader in health care, influencing the policies, programs, budgets and initiatives affecting the profession and the health of Canadians. More information is available at www.pharmacists.ca.

For more information, please contact:

Stefi Proulx
Media and Stakeholder Relations Specialist
Canadian Pharmacists Association
(613) 523-7877 ext 230