As More Canadian Provinces Mandate Error Reporting, U.S. Experts Call for Similar Laws


Ontario joins Nova Scotia in making medication dispensing error reporting mandatory, but no states have enacted similar laws.

The Ontario College of Pharmacists will soon implement a program to make it mandatory to report medication errors. It joins Nova Scotia as the second Canadian province to make this rule, while Saskatchewan is conducting a trial of the rule.

The college hopes to make a decision on when and how the rule will be implemented by June. The rule will require “mandatory medication incident reporting to a third party which would provide the data required to support systemic review of errors in individual pharmacies as well as an aggregate review of national trends to support ongoing quality improvement initiatives,” according to a statement college spokesperson Todd Leach made to Global News.

But as more Canadian provinces enact such rules, the idea has gained little ground in the United States. No program currently exists in any state requiring medication error reporting to a third-party. Michael Cohen, RPh, President of the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP), told Drug Topics that the United States should institute these kinds of regulations.

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“I wish we could do this here in the States via the federally-sanctioned PSOs (Patient Safety Organizations),” said Cohen. “We’d certainly be able to learn about serious issues and gauge frequency more quickly.”

While ISMP is one of several PSOs gathering error reports, the information is voluntary, and thus comparatively small. A mandatory system would, according to Cohen “help pharmacists to respond to errors and vastly improve their quality improvement efforts.” 

“Independent pharmacies are engaged with CQI (Continuous Quality Improvement) programs and some document through ISMP US or another PSO,” added Cohen. “A high level of expertise is needed for analysis of these reports and results need to be shared nationally as we do, not just to individual members of the PSO. The major chains do not share information with other pharmacies nationally, which is one reason why a third party is needed.”

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