Recently, media outlets have been reporting on unfortunate circumstances resulting from medication errors involving pharmacists in Ontario and Saskatchewan. The Ontario Pharmacists Association (OPA) and its 9,800 members were saddened by these events and we continue our efforts in working with our colleagues across the profession to help prevent medication errors and to pursue excellence in patient care.
Patient safety – making sure that patients receive the right drug, in the right dose, at the right time, for the right condition – is a top priority for all pharmacists. The Ontario Pharmacists Association works diligently to educate its members on best practices for mitigating medication errors, and we maintain a collaborative relationship with both the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the Ontario College of Pharmacists in order to identify ways to improve our provincial drug distribution system.
It is not surprising that questions are being raised about the ways in which medication errors are reported, investigated and made public, and about whether the current system is in the best interest of patient care. In Ontario, and in the majority of other provinces and territories, there is no mandatory requirement to report medication errors; however, industry best practice is to immediately report medication errors to an appropriate, independent body. The goal of this reporting is not only to ensure that the error is appropriately managed, but to allow practitioners to learn from the error and implement new processes and procedures within their practices to avoid or minimize the risk of similar errors occurring.
There are many components that go into an optimal process for monitoring errors, and OPA is ready to work collaboratively with regulators, government, patient groups and stakeholders to explore these elements for a process that delivers greater transparency and patient safety.