Ontario College of Pharmacists moves forward with province-wide implementation of mandatory medication safety program for pharmacies

Posted:Nov 1st, 2018
Read Time: 3 Min Read
For immediate release

November 1, 2018 – Toronto, ON – In its continued efforts to serve and protect the people of Ontario, the Ontario College of Pharmacists (OCP) today announced it is moving forward with the full implementation of its medication safety and quality assurance program to all 4,300+ community pharmacies starting in November.

The province-wide roll out, announced during Canadian Patient Safety Week, follows a nine-month preliminary phase in which the College worked with approximately 100 pharmacies to test and provide feedback on the program prior to full implementation. Once all community pharmacies have onboarded to the program by mid-2019, it will be the largest program of its kind in Canada.

The AIMS (Assurance and Improvement in Medication Safety) Program is a medication safety and quality assurance program that will support continuous improvement and puts in place a mandatory consistent standard for medication safety for all pharmacies across the province. Utilizing both a preventative approach through proactive reviews of work processes to identify areas of risk and retrospective reviews of specific medication incidents, the program enables pharmacy professionals to learn from medication incidents and better understand why they happen and how they can be prevented.

The goal of the program is to enhance patient safety and reduce the risk of patient harm caused by medication incidents in, or involving, pharmacies. Specifically, the program requires pharmacies to:

  • Report: Medication incidents and near misses will be anonymously reported by pharmacy professionals via a third-party incident recording platform in order to populate an aggregate database to identify issues and trends to support patient safety improvements at the pharmacy and broader system levels;
  • Document: Pharmacy professionals will document appropriate details of medication incidents and near misses in a timely manner to support accuracy. Continuous quality improvement (CQI) plans and outcomes of staff communications and quality improvements implemented are also documented;
  • Analyze: Pharmacy professionals will analyze the incident in a timely manner for causal factors and commit to taking appropriate steps to minimize the likelihood of recurrence of the incident;
  • Share Learnings: Pharmacy professionals will ensure prompt communication of appropriate details of a medication incident or near miss, including causal factors and actions taken as a result, to all pharmacy staff.

Ultimately, through a better understanding of trends associated with recorded incidents including how and why they occur, the College and its health system partners will be able to identify solutions and recommendations to prevent those incidents from recurring and to share these learnings province wide, and beyond.

“Moving forward with full province-wide implementation of our medication safety program is an important milestone for patient safety not just for the College but for pharmacy and for the people of Ontario who rely on the safe and high quality care provided by pharmacy professionals every day. As Canada’s largest pharmacy regulator committed to protecting the interests, health and wellbeing of patients and the public, the College is committed to promoting the safe, effective and ethical delivery of pharmacy services in Ontario and to continually explore and act on ways that we can make our health system safer.

“This is the first structured program in Ontario specific to pharmacy that will lead to an improved understanding of the number, type, frequency, impact and cause of medication incidents in, or involving, pharmacies. It establishes a standardized approach and expectations related to quality improvement and will help identify trends that will lead to system-wide recommendations to reduce the risk of medication incidents across the province.”

— Nancy Lum-Wilson, CEO and Registrar, Ontario College of Pharmacists

“There is always a patient at the end of every prescription. As part of a patient’s healthcare team, pharmacy professionals have one of the most important roles to play when it comes to patient safety and reducing the risk of preventable harm caused by medication errors. The tragic consequences such as what happened in our family, to Andrew, must be reduced or eliminated altogether.

“The College exemplified its commitment to accountability when they asked me to be a part of building this program. I have been consulted and involved throughout the process and they have demonstrated their dedication to creating a system of medication safety and error prevention. I am pleased that the College is now moving into this final phase and that it acted quickly yet thoughtfully to develop and implement a program in Ontario that will contribute to safer pharmacy care.”

— Melissa Sheldrick, patient safety advocate, medication safety task force member and mother of Andrew Sheldrick, who tragically passed away due to a medication error.

About the Ontario College of Pharmacists

The Ontario College of Pharmacists (OCP), incorporated in 1871, is the registering and regulating body for the profession of pharmacy in Ontario. The College’s mandate is to serve and protect the public and hold Ontario’s pharmacists and pharmacy technicians accountable to the established legislation, standards of practice, code of ethics and policies and guidelines relevant to pharmacy practice. The College also oversees the province’s community and hospital pharmacies and assesses them against prescribed standards of operation. For more information, visit www.ocpinfo.com.

416-962-4861 ext. 2000

AIMS – Medication Safety Backgrounder

AIMS – Medication Safety Fact Sheet

AIMS – Medication Safety FAQs