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CPSI Share                                                  
10/31/2012 6:00 PM

​​The program for day three of Canada’s Virtual Forum on Patient Safety and Quality Improvement was dedicated to medication safety.  Communicating effectively about medications is a critical component of delivering safe care across all sectors of the healthcare system. 

Neil Johnson (Vice-President, Cancer Services, London Health Sciences Centre) provided a synopsis on implementing medication reconciliation in an acute care multi-site academic hospital.  His presentation focused on leadership and change management to effectively implement medication reconciliation across the continuum of care. Johnson says that to drive change you need to ensure you have the right leaders on the bus from the get-go. He also described what he called his secret sauce for sustainability: craft a vision that has clear goals and objectives; identify leaders; develop influencing strategies; dedicate the right resources; and ask questions that engage an approach of ‘would you help me to …’ and ‘this is what I need from you’.

Cathy Szabo (CEO, Client Services, Central Community Care Access Centre) outlined how technology is helping to improve patient care and transitions at community care facilities in Ontario. Using leading practices in e-health and health assessment technology that supports evidence-based decision-making and outcome-based care,  the CCAC has developed and implemented resource matching, an e-Referral system and medication management to reduce duplication and better manage transitions for the betterment of their clients and patients.   

The Medication Safety in Family Practice and Primary Care session explored barriers and enablers for medication safety in the primary care sector. Patsy Smith (Health Care Consultant, PLS Consulting) and Dr. Ruth Wilson (Board Chair, Institute for Safe Medication Practices Canada and Associate Director of Health Policy, College of Family Physicians of Canada) demonstrated how teamwork, e-prescribing and drug information systems, and accreditation can improve medication safety. The presenters discussed issues around over-the-counter drug availability, herbals and supplements, illegal procurement, financial barriers, lists of side effects, allergies and intolerance, and the enablers and barriers to e-prescribing. 

Co-lead of the National Medication Reconciliation Strategy Marie Owen (Medication Reconciliation Co-lead, Canadian Patient Safety Institute) provided an update on the priorities for medication reconciliation (MedRec) in Canada.  MedRec is a challenging and complex component of patient safety and continuing collaboration on the development of technology, tools and resources, education, teamwork and communication will help advance safe medication practices. Owen profiled some of the endeavours undertaken to build awareness, including social media and consumer engagement.

Author and physician, Dr. John Sloan and patient narrative family member, Johanna Trimble described their personal experiences in the session Safe Prescribing for the Frail Elderly. Both Sloan and Trimble reinforced how invaluable the perspective of a loved one can be when unexpected results occur as a result of new, additional, or changes to a drug regime. When describing drugs for the elderly stereotyping continues to be a problem and the presenters say that you need to look at the person not the population. To provide the best care possible, they suggested igniting a conversation with the question, ‘How do you want to live the rest of your life?’

Alain Biron (Performance Measurement Advisor, McGill University Health Centre) provided the French presentation on Medication Safety: Centralizing data effectively in an organization. Biron discussed some of the challenges associated with measurement strategies (self-reporting, trigger tools, observation), along with characteristics of high-performing organizations that have successfully integrated the use of measurement to drive improvement at the micro-system level.

The Resources to help you succeed session profiled the Improving Care Search Centre, a Google-like search network that has summarized information on patient safety and quality improvement from over 600 websites.  Virtual Focus Group sessions will be held on November 13, 14 and 15 to gather input on improving the website.  To join a virtual Focus Group, email

Throughout the week, videos have been broadcast to promote medication safety.  The Med Safety Goes Viral: 2012 Medication Safety Video Competition challenged healthcare organizations to create short videos that promote and demonstrate medication safety in healthcare or community settings. Fourteen videos were submitted from healthcare organizations worldwide and the videos have been viewed over 14,000 times on YouTube!  View the Med Safety videos on YouTube and vote for your favourite!

The Virtual Forum continues until Friday, November 2nd, with more patient stories, presentations and panel discussions to come.  Click here to view the program and register. Send your questions, comments and success stories to, or tweet chat to #ptsafetyforum.