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Healthc Q. 2008;11(3 Spec No.):47-53.

Development of canadian safety indicators for medication use.

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College of Pharmacy, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia.


Reports of preventable illness due to medication errors are widespread in Canada. However, quantifying the magnitude of the problem has been hampered by a lack of measurement tools. Canadian-specific indicators, or performance measures, of safe medication use do not exist. The objective of this study was to develop a set of Canadian consensus-based indicators for the safe use of medication for both in-patient and outpatient settings. A panel of 20 national experts was established from a convenience sample of experts representing medicine, nursing, pharmacy, research and decision-makers in hospitals and community settings across Canada. After creating a list of potential indicators from the literature, the final consensus set was chosen by the panel using a Delphi survey process via e-mail. After three rounds, consensus was obtained on 20 medication-use safety indicators: seven indicators were related to systems of care, five to prescribing/ordering, three to monitoring/assessment, three to medication administration, one to preparation and dispensing and one to purchasing/inventory management. Seventeen of the indicators measure a process of care (in contrast to health outcome); at least 10 have applications outside the in-patient setting. The resulting 20 medication-use safety indicators are diverse in scope and should be applicable in a variety of practice settings. These indicators may provide clinicians and decision-makers with valuable tools to assess the safety of medication-use systems.

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