Help Prevent Harmful Medication Incidents
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A component of the Canadian Medication Incident Reporting and Prevention System (CMIRPS).
 

Frequently Asked Questions


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Get answers to some frequently asked questions about medication incidents and about reporting medication incidents.


What is a medication incident?


A medication incident is a mistake with medication, or a problem that could cause a mistake with medication. "Medication error" is another name for one kind of medication incident. Medication incidents include obvious things like receiving the wrong medication or dose, but might also include problems like a confusing label that might lead to someone receiving the wrong medication. Medication incidents may involve use of prescription and non-prescription medications, natural health products, imported products and/or devices used to administer medications.

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Who should report medication incidents to this site?


Patients, family members, caregivers or any other individual who may be acting for, or in support of, a patient or client receiving health care, may report medication incidents to this site. If you are reporting on behalf of someone you know, you should ask their permission to report the incident and be sure that you know all the facts about the incident.

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Why should I report a medication incident to ISMP Canada?


When you submit an incident report to ISMP Canada, we will review it to look for problems that can potentially cause errors to happen. Often, we can recommend ways to prevent the same error from happening to someone else. This will make healthcare safer for Canadians.

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I had a side effect to a drug. Should that be reported as a medication incident?


Side effects (unwanted effects that happen when drugs are used under normal conditions) are also known as "adverse drug reactions" and are not medication incidents. Adverse drug reactions should be reported to Health Canada's Canada Vigilance Program.

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Should I talk to the organization or health professional that is responsible for an error in my care?


ISMP Canada encourages you to speak with a health professional if you think an error in your care has occurred. A health professional can take steps to find out if you have been harmed from the mistake and can help you get treatment if necessary. Also, telling a health professional about mistakes in your care will allow them to learn how and why the mistake happened and may prevent the same mistake from happening again. If your mistake happened in hospital and you are not sure who to talk to, many healthcare organizations have "patient representatives" or "patient advocates" who may be able to help with your concern.

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Will ISMP Canada investigate a complaint on my behalf with an organization or health professional that is responsible for an error in my care?


No.

ISMP Canada cannot investigate individual complaints about the healthcare organization or health professional that provided your care. Information on what to do to resolve a concern about the safety of your care is available on the website of the Canadian Patient Safety Institute.

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Will the information I report to ISMP Canada be used to punish or discipline a person who made a mistake?


No.

ISMP Canada will not investigate the actions of individual practitioners. ISMP Canada will not report the incident to a professional regulatory authority (an organization responsible for disciplining health professionals).

When we review incident reports, we are looking for the problems that caused the error so that we can recommend ways to make the system safer. This is a much better way to prevent errors than punishing the person who made the mistake. Blaming the person who made the mistake without getting to the root of the problem will not prevent the same mistake from being made by someone else. Reviewing incident reports and suggesting safer ways to prescribe, package, dispense or give medication is a better way to prevent harmful errors.

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Aren't medication incidents already reported by doctors, pharmacists or nurses? Why do you need consumers to report medication incidents?


The Canadian Medication Incident Reporting and Prevention System (CMIRPS) already collects medication incident reports from health care workers, but we also need information that consumers can provide. You might know about an incident that your health professional isn't aware of, and you can help us identify underlying problems that cause errors.

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How long will it take to submit an incident report?


The amount of time depends on how much information you provide in your report, but it probably won't take more than 20 minutes of your time to fill in the form.

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Will ISMP Canada contact me after I submit my incident report?


You will have the option to provide ISMP Canada with your contact information in case we need more information about your report. ISMP Canada will not contact you unless we have questions about your report or need more information for follow-up purposes.

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How will ISMP Canada protect my privacy?


ISMP Canada has implemented a number of safeguards to protect the information received in reports. These safeguards protect information against loss or theft, as well as unauthorized access, disclosure, copying, use or modification. The safeguards include physical measures (for example, locked filing cabinets and restricted access to offices), administrative measures (for example, limiting access to information on a "need-to-know" basis) and technical measures (for example, the use of passwords and encryption). For more information, see ISMP Canada's full privacy policy.

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I can't submit my report over the internet. Is there any other way to submit a medication incident report to ISMP Canada?


If you wish to report a medication incident by phone, you can call ISMP Canada toll-free at 1-866-54-ISMPC (1-866-544-7672).

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