A Prescription for Safer Care: Medication Reconciliation

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Medication Reconciliation in Canada: Raising the Bar

November 1, 2012 – Ottawa—Reducing medication related errors is apriority for advancing safe, quality health care in Canada, and four national organizations are tackling it head on. Accreditation Canada, the Canadian Institute for Health Information, the Canadian Patient Safety Institute, and the Institute for Safe Medication Practices Canada released a report today entitled Medication Reconciliation in Canada: Raising the Bar.

Medication reconciliation is a formal process of identifying a complete and accurate list of medications a patient is taking, and using that list to provide correct medications for the patient at each transition of care. This new report identifies high risk populations and effective approaches to medication reconciliation, as well as the challenges, trends, and advances toward ensuring drug related errors are avoided.  

Some of the insights found in the report include

  • In 2009 – 2010, the estimated economic burden of preventable patient safety incidents in acute care in Canada was $397 million. Medication reconciliation was identified as key to reducing this burden.
  • One quarter of seniors have three or more chronic conditions that often need to be treated with multiple medications. These seniors are at higher risk of adverse events related to medication use, and unplanned visits to emergency departments and hospitals.
  • Of the 288 health care organizations surveyed by Accreditation Canada in 2011, only 60% had a process for medication reconciliation at admission, and 50% had a process for medication reconciliation at transfer or discharge.
  • Medication reconciliation practices showed the highest improvement from 2010 to 2011, yet continue to be one of the greatest patient safety challenges.
  • The National Medication Reconciliation Strategy, co-led by CPSI and ISMP Canada, is actively developing curriculum for health care practitioners, as well as tools, resources, and technology supports - including medication checklists, a mobile app to help patients better manage their own medications, and an interactive web-based map of innovative medication reconciliation resources by region.

The work of the four partners, including Medication Reconciliation in Canada: Raising the Bar, supports communication of medication information within the health care system, promotes consistent measurement, and ensures approaches are continually reviewed and updated. Together, this group will continue to advance the national medication reconciliation agenda, and will further support health care providers to make care safer for all Canadians.                                                     

Accreditation Canada www.accreditation.ca 
Accreditation Canada is a not-for-profit, independent organization accredited by the International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQua). Accreditation Canada provides national and international health care organizations with an external peer review process, standards and tools to assess and improve the services they provide to their patients and clients based on national standards. Accreditation Canada's programs and guidance have helped organizations promote quality health care for over 50 years.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) www.cihi.ca 
CIHI is an independent, not-for-profit corporation that provides essential information on Canada’s health system and the health of Canadians. Established in 1994 and funded by federal, provincial and territorial governments, CIHI’s vision is to improve Canada’s health system and the well-being of Canadians by being a leading source of unbiased, credible and comparable information that will enable health leaders to make better-informed decisions.

The Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI) www.patientsafetyinstitute.ca  
CPSI is a not-for-profit organization that exists to raise awareness and facilitate implementation of ideas and best practices to achieve a transformation in patient safety. CPSI envisions safe health care for all Canadians and is driven to inspire extraordinary improvement in patient safety and quality. The Canadian Patient Safety Institute would like to acknowledge funding support from Health Canada.

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices Canada (ISMP Canada) www.ismp-canada.org  ISMP Canada is an independent national not-for-profit organization committed to the advancement of medication safety in all health care settings. ISMP Canada works collaboratively with the health care 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.

Media contacts

Liane Craig
Senior Advisor, Media Relations & Public Engagement
Accreditation Canada
613-738-3800       ext. 301
1-800-814-7769   ext. 301

Sandra Koppert
Cell: 613-297-7792

About CIHI

CIHI collects and analyzes information on health and health care in Canada and makes it publicly available. Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments created CIHI as a not-for-profit, independent organization dedicated to forging a common approach to Canadian health information. CIHI’s goal: to provide timely, accurate and comparable information. CIHI’s data and reports inform health policies, support the effective delivery of health services and raise awareness among Canadians of the factors that contribute to good health.

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