Throughout the last quarter, progress on the Medication Safety Action Plan took significant steps forward with the completion of several actions due to the hard work and dedication from lead organizations and partners. Actions started jumped from 70% to 80% and actions completed jumped from 47% to 75% creating strong momentum for the remainder of this year and beyond into 2017/18. Highlights from this quarter include taking sustained action to address the current widespread issue of opioid safety with the goal to make opioid use safer for Canadians. In response to the growing crisis, on November 18, 2016, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices Canada, the Canadian Patient Safety Institute and Patients for Patient Safety Canada committed to the following in Health Canada's Joint Statement of Action to Address the Opioid Crisis:
- By August 2017: Empowering patients to improve knowledge about the use of opioids, the options for non-medication treatment of pain, and the prevention of harm from medications by developing tools for patients and their healthcare providers.
- Tools will include: the questions to ask; the information that helps answer the questions; and a template for non-pharmacological options that can be used during hospital discharge or in primary care.
- Selected hospitals and community pharmacies will provide this information to every patient with an opioid prescription.
- By November 2017: Providing resources for dealing with left-over end-of-life opioid supplies in the home. These resources will include information and procedures addressing improved in-house storage to reduce the risk of accidental harm, information about the safe storage and disposal of medicines, and procedures for the safe disposal of medicines and equipment.
Actions that were previously underway to address opioid safety (90% complete) will be expanded and built upon throughout 2017/18 to meet the above commitments. Merging this work to align with commitments from other organizations will contribute to addressing this serious issue.
In addition, Canada Health Infoway led the successful completion of the action to advocate for patient involvement in the development and use of digital health technology to improve medication safety. From November 16-22 during digital health week, the Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists, Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada and other medication safety partners joined the campaign as part of the action. Canada Health Infoway helped Canadians think digital health 23 million times over social media with patient engagement and education activities and events that occurred throughout the week.