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CPSI Share                                                    
1/9/2019 5:00 PM

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices Canada (ISMP Canada), Health Standards Organization (HSO), and the Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI) are working together to support Vanessa's Law; a Health Canada initiative that requires certain healthcare institutions across Canada to identify and report on serious adverse drug reactions (ADRs) and medical device incidents (MDIs).

Each year, millions of Canadians access healthcare services and/or medications. Vanessa's Law will help keep these services and medications safe by ensuring organizations report on ADR and MDI occurrences, thereby allowing Health Canada to take timely, appropriate action when a serious health risk is identified.

The Protecting Canadians from Unsafe Drugs Act – named Vanessa's Law in honour of the late daughter of Terence Young (previously a Conservative MP) – amends the Food and Drug Act and strengthens the regulation of therapeutic products including prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vaccines, gene therapies, cells, tissues and organs, and medical devices.

In 2016, one in 143 Canadian seniors were hospitalized due to harmful effects from medications1.

The three organizations –ISMP Canada, HSO, and CPSI – have come together to support Vanessa's Law by developing educational resources and outreach to help healthcare organizations across Canada in identifying and reporting ADR and MDI occurrences. The project is funded by Health Canada.

Carolyn Hoffman, President and CEO of ISMP Canada considers this work to be a key priority. In her own words: "The Joint Venture partnership leverages the strengths of our organizations, in collaboration with Health Canada, to support provinces and territories, hospitals and health care providers in preparing for implementation of the Vanessa's Law mandatory reporting requirements. Patient and family members are integral partners in this project to increase reporting and learning related to ADRs and MDIs." 

"We are extremely proud to be working with Health Canada in partnership with ISMP and CPSI to address serious gaps in safety reporting in hospitals," says Leslee Thompson, CEO of HSO. "The education and outreach activities that arise out of this work will be invaluable to improving the safety of Canadians. HSO is looking forward to collaborating with patients, providers and policy makers to further advance our common goals of achieving meaningful and measurable improvements that honor the legacy of Vanessa and her family."

"Vanessa's Law is essential to Canada's healthcare systems," says Chris Power, CEO of the Canadian Patient Safety Institute. "We can't improve what we don't measure. These new reporting requirements will help contribute to improving the safety of drugs and medical devices. Everyone in Canada deserves safe healthcare."

Learn more about Vanessa's Law on the Health Canada website.


  • ISMP Canada is an independent, national not-for-profit organization committed to the advancement of medication safety in all health care settings. ISMP Canada's mandate includes a national role in receiving and analyzing medication incident reports, making recommendations for the prevention of harmful medication incidents, and facilitating quality improvement initiatives.
  • HSO develops standards, assessment programs and methodologies to enable health and social service providers around the world to improve quality while doing what they do best; saving and improving lives.
  • CPSI is the only national organization solely dedicated to reducing preventable harm and improving the safety of the Canadian healthcare system. CPSI's bold new strategy, "Patient Safety Right Now", aims to reduce medication errors in Canada by 50% over the next five years.

1 Canadian Institute for Health Information. Drug Use Among Seniors in Canada, 2016. Ottawa, ON: CIHI; 2018.