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​​This comprehensive resource document has been written for use by senior practice leaders involved with medication management and system development, and by their executive leadership colleagues responsible for strategic funding and system acquisition. The purpose of this document is to review the need for automated identification (e.g., bar coding) of medications within both community‐based (e.g., nursing homes) and institutional (e.g., hospital and ambulatory) care. It is hoped that a better understanding of relevant issues will accelerate the adoption of innovative and safer medication processes within the Canadian healthcare system thus creating a medication system that protects Canadian patients from preventable and potentially serious harm. Its release represents the final phase of the Canadian Pharmaceutical Bar Coding Project, co‐led by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices Canada and the Canadian Patient Safety Institute. Its development has incorporated input and received support from major Canadian healthcare practice organizations, such as the Canadian Nurses Association and the Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists.

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The guide has four sections:

  • A Bar Code Primer for Leaders
  • Building the Case for Automated Identification of Medications
  • Implementation Considerations
  • References