Highlights from ISMP Canada Safety Bulletin

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices Canada has released another issue of their safety bulletin. Here are some of the highlights:

Mandatory reporting of serious adverse drug reactions and medical device incidents

The Protecting Canadians from Unsafe Drugs Act, or Vanessa’s Law, which will go into effect in December of 2019, is intended to increase drug and medical device safety in Canada by strengthening Health Canada’s ability to collect information and to take quick and appropriate action when a serious health risk is identified. It will be mandatory for hospitals to report serious adverse drug reactions and medical device incidents to Health Canada.

Medication safety self-assessment

Following successful pilot studies, an assessment program is being launched. This program will have a focus on pharmaceutical “never events”, which are patient safety incidents resulting in serious harm or death, but can be prevented by using organizational checks and balances.

Med safety exchange webinar series

Beginning on Wednesday, September 18th 2019, health workers from across Canada will be participating in bi-monthly 50-minute webinars to share, learn, and discuss incident reports, trends, and emerging issues in medication safety. Click here for more information.

Mistaken identity – a recurring problem

SafeMedicationUse.ca has released a newsletter wherein this issue is highlighted. It is crucial that pharmacy staff ask for your birthdate, address, or other identification when you pick up a prescription. There have been numerous reports of consumers accidentally receiving someone else’s medication, for example in cases of twins or people with the same name.

SafeMedicationUse.ca has the following advice for consumers to make sure that the prescriptions you receive actually belong to you:

  • When you go to a pharmacy, hospital, or other healthcare setting always identify yourself using your full name and at least one other piece of information. The additional information can be your date of birth, your home address, or your health card number.
  • Before you accept a medication from the pharmacy, check for your name and address on the bag.
  • If you are a twin or other multiple, let your healthcare providers know about the possible confusion with your siblings. Having a similar physical appearance, similar names, and the same birthdate, and possibly also sharing the same address, all increase the risk for a mix-up.
  • Make sure your healthcare providers are aware of your “preferred” name. Ask to include this name in your file, along with your full name as it appears on government-issued identification.
twins illustration


To view the full report, click here.