Medications are the most common treatment intervention used in healthcare around the world. When used safely and appropriately, they contribute to significant improvements in the health and well-being of patients. In January 2014, the Health Council of Canada reported that more than half of Canadians are regularly using prescription drugs, with 36% taking two or more medications. However, despite the best intentions of healthcare providers and the design of healthcare systems, medications can cause patient safety incidents.
Medication safety is defined as freedom from preventable harm with medication use (ISMP Canada, 2007). Medication safety issues can impact health outcomes, length of stay in a healthcare facility, readmission rates, and overall costs to Canada's healthcare system. This issue is one of CPSI's Forward with Four priorities and was the focus of the 2014 Medication Safety Summit, co-hosted by CPSI and ISMP Canada. The summit led to the development of the Medication Safety Action Plan, which is currently being implemented by CPSI and multiple partners across Canada.