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October 26, 2018

The Canadian Patient Safety Institute's Canadian Patient Safety Week can help

Edmonton, AB – Unsafe medication practices and medication errors are leading causes of injury and avoidable harm in healthcare systems around the world. Canadians over the age of 65 are at an increased risk of drug complications. Below, there are 5 tips Canadians can use right now to reduce medication risks.

"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, October 29 to November 2, encourages patients and healthcare providers to have an open conversation about 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.

Canadians should review medications with a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if they are:

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

CPSI is promoting a list of top questions to help this conversation. Canadians can use the 5 Questions to Ask About Your Medications during appointments with doctors, nurses, or pharmacists; when going home from hospital; or when visited by home care services.

To reduce the risk of medication harm, Canadians should consider these 5 tips:

  1. KNOW: Keep a list of all medications – prescription, over-the-counter, naturopathic, and recreational – and bring it in on medical appointments to reduce the risk of harmful drug interactions.
  2. CHECK with pharmacists, doctors, or nurses to confirm all medications are being taken properly.
  3. ASK to review ALL meds when doctors or nurses order a start, stop, or change to any medications.
  4. Ask pharmacists to REVIEW MEDICATIONS when filling or refilling a prescription, or if 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 During Canadian Patient Safety Week, October 29 – November 2, the Canadian Patient Safety Institute will offer webinars, quizzes, contests and resources designed to warn of and protect Canadians from medication harm.

About Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI)

The Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI) is a not-for-profit organization that exists to raise awareness and facilitate implementation of ideas and best practices to achieve a transformation in patient safety. CPSI reflects the desire to close the gap between the healthcare we have and the healthcare we deserve. CPSI would like to acknowledge funding support from Health Canada. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of Health Canada.

For media inquiries and interview requests with CPSI CEO Chris Power, please contact:

Chris Thrall
Communications Officer
Canadian Patient Safety Institute
Phone (780) 566-8375