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CPSI Share                                                  
10/28/2018 6:00 PM

Are you at risk of harm from your medications? Unsafe medication practices and medication errors are a leading cause of injury and avoidable harm in health care systems across the world.

If you – or people you love – are over the age of 65, there is an increased risk of drug complications. Prescription, over-the-counter, naturopathic or recreational: read on for 5 tips to reduce your medication risks!

Approximately 6-7% of hospital admissions appear to be medication related, with over two-thirds of these considered avoidable. More than one in three Canadian seniors use at least one potentially inappropriate medication, which can lead to health risks, including falls, fractures, hospitalizations and death.

In 2016, 1 out of 143 Canadian seniors were hospitalized due to harmful medication interactions. Two out of three Canadian seniors take at least five different prescribed medications; one out of four takes at least ten! 

Review medications with a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you or someone you love is:

  • over the age of 65,
  • taking 5 or more medications,
  • recently discharged from hospital, or
  • concerned about side effects.

"Each year, 50 per cent of medications are taken incorrectly, and an estimated 37 per cent of seniors in nine provinces receive a prescription for a drug that should not be taken by this population," says CEO Chris Power of the Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI). "This year's Not All Meds Get Along campaign during Canadian Patient Safety Week encourages patients and healthcare providers to have an open conversation about medication risks."

CPSI is promoting a list of top questions to help this conversation. Bring out the 5 Questions to Ask About Your Medications with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist; when going home from hospital; or when visited by home care services.

To reduce the risk of medication harm to you or your loved ones, consider these 5 tips:

  1. KNOW: Keep a list of all medications – prescription, over-the-counter, naturopathic, and recreational – and bring it in on your medical appointments to reduce the risk of harmful drug interactions.
  2. CHECK with your pharmacist, doctor, or nurse to confirm all medications are being taken properly.
  3. ASK to review ALL of your meds when your doctor or nurse starts, stops, or changes any of your medications.
  4. Ask your pharmacist to REVIEW YOUR MEDICATIONS when you are filling or refilling a prescription, or if you are adding, removing, or changing any non-prescription medications or supplements.
  5. DO NOT STOP OR CHANGE medications without first consulting a doctor or healthcare professional.

We all have a role to play in reducing the risk of medication harm. Find resources and tools at