Health Canada

Health Canada

October 29, 2013 15:12 ET

Taking Action to Reduce Medication Incidents in Canada

Government of Canada invests in national program to reduce incidents and improve patient safety

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Oct. 29, 2013) - As part of Canadian Patient Safety Week, Terence Young, Member of Parliament for Oakville, on behalf of the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, today announced funding for the Institute for Safe Medication Practices Canada (ISMP Canada) to help reduce serious medication incidents in Canada.

"Improving patient safety is an essential part our government's commitment to supporting a quality healthcare system for all Canadians," said MP Young. "Supporting ISMP Canada's work will help prevent medication incidents from happening in the first place, so that patients and families don't suffer needlessly."

"Studying the underlying causes of medication incidents and developing workable solutions to help prevent harm is at the core of our work," said David U, President and CEO of ISMP Canada.

Problems such as confusing labels and packages, and miscommunication can lead to medication incidents that can often be serious and have devastating consequences for patients and families. With Health Canada's support, ISMP Canada will continue to implement and expand the Canadian Medication Incident Reporting and Prevention System (CMIRPS) which collects and shares information on medication incidents in order to prevent other patients from suffering needlessly.

This investment is part of Health Canada's ongoing commitment to improve drug safety. Recently, the Department launched its Plain Language Labelling Initiative, which aims to improve the safe use of drugs by making drug labels and safety information easier to read and understand. Information gathered through CMIRPS assists Health Canada in its work to improve drug labels, which contributes to Canadians' understanding of over-the-counter and prescription drugs and their risks.

See the attached Fact Sheet for more information on funding for CMIRPS.

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Fact Sheet - October 2013

Canadian Medication Incident Reporting and Prevention System

Health Canada is providing $3.2 million over two years to support the Institute for Safe Medication Practices Canada's (ISMP Canada's) continued work to expand the reach and impact of the Canadian Medication Incident Reporting and Prevention System (CMIRPS).

Just as confusing road signs can cause traffic accidents, problems such as drug labels that look alike, drug names that sound alike, and miscommunication can all lead to medication incidents. A 2008 Commonwealth Fund survey found that nearly one in 10 adult Canadians with health problems reported receiving the wrong medication or the wrong dose from a pharmacy or hospital within the previous two years.

While many medication incidents don't cause harm, some can be very serious, even fatal. In most cases, medication incidents can be prevented.

CMIRPS helps improve understanding and information sharing about medication incidents in order to prevent them. Funding for CMIRPS will be used to collect and share information about medication incidents, including types, trends and underlying causes, as well as to develop tools and preventative measures to reduce the likelihood of harmful incidents happening again.

Health Canada is an active partner in CMIRPS. In addition to funding support, Health Canada contributes knowledge and expertise from its perspective as the federal regulator of health products, particularly with respect to reducing health risks related to a health product's name, package or label. As well, Health Canada uses information gathered through CMIRPS as part of its ongoing activities to monitor and improve the safety of medications and other health products in Canada.

ISMP Canada is an independent national not-for-profit organization committed to the advancement of medication safety in all healthcare settings. ISMP Canada, Health Canada, the Canadian Institute for Health Information and the Canadian Patient Safety Institute all collaborate in CMIRPS.

Contact Information

  • Media Inquiries:
    Michael Bolkenius
    Office of the Honourable Rona Ambrose
    Federal Minister of Health
    (613) 957-0200

    Health Canada
    Media Relations
    (613) 957-2983

    Public Inquiries:
    (613) 957-2991
    1-866 225-0709