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Enhancing safety of medication delivery in Canadian community pharmacies

Study Lead
Study Lead
Dr. James Barker, Dalhousie University
Julia Rodgers, Dalhousie University
Sherri Elms, Queen’s University
Dr. Benoit Aubert, Dalhousie University
Dr. Neil MacKinnon, University of Cincinnati

What? Most of the research focusing on medication safety in Canada is restricted to the hospital setting. Yet, community pharmacies are not exempt from the ability to cause harm. Approximately 5-10% of hospital admissions and emergency room visits are caused by adverse drug events that occur in the community setting, and it has been estimated that about one-half to two-thirds of these events were preventable.

In order to strengthen the safety of medication delivery in community pharmacies, and following the pioneer model established in Nova Scotia, several provinces have recently implemented error reporting safety programs. These programs require all community pharmacies to record and report errors to an independent body, with the purpose of learning from mistakes made and prevent re-occurrence.


Why? The aim of this research is to explore how to best analyze and learn from medication delivery errors reported in centralized reporting programs, to map effective strategies to reduce the likelihood that they reoccur.  


How? In the first phase of this project, we will bring together a team of  international experts in pharmacy research from Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States with key industry, policy, and patient safety stakeholders, with the goal of jointly developing strategies to improve current community pharmacy safety practices. The team will initially compare electronic data on medication incidents in Canadian community pharmacies with similar datasets maintained in other countries, and will determine the most informative analyses to capture error patterns in the data sets. The team will also identify practice mechanisms that can advance the safe delivery of medications in community pharmacies, and will discuss potential regulatory quality improvement practices.


Impact of findings: The overall goal of the research is to reduce drug-related patient harm through the implementation of quality improvement strategies in Canadian community pharmacies. Through this partnership with researchers and the industry , we will be able to discuss organizational and regulatory issues and constraints in medication incident reporting, implement quality improvement programs and develop new standards of practice, which will reduce medication incidents.  The establishment of standards of practice will also permit to contrast Canadian data on incident reporting with data from other countries, and has the potential to position Canada as world leader in safe medication delivery.


Funded By
CIHR Planning and Dissemination grant
Leonora O’Brien, Pharmapod