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Monday, March 13, 2017 in Safer Every Day

Client or patient medication errors are something every healthcare professional does their best to avoid. For Home Care nurses and continuing care aides, who visit several clients every day requiring medication management services, keeping medication doses straight for each client can be very challenging.

“In Saskatoon, we were seeing medications from 80 different pharmacies, each with its own processes, way of labelling and packaging medicines,” explains Tammy Vornbrock, Director of Home Care for Saskatoon Health Region. “This was leading to errors, despite the best efforts of our staff.”

In 2015-16, the Region’s Home Care self-reported 891 medication errors, where over 51 per cent of those errors reached clients. Change was needed.

“In September of last year, after much consideration and an open request for proposal process, we chose to begin implementation of a single source pharmacy for all our medication managed clients,” Vornbrock continues. “We strongly believe standardization reduces error, and we want our clients and our staff to be as safe as possible.”

The change has impacted approximately 250 Home Care clients within Saskatoon who receive daily medication management. This is less than 10 per cent of Home Care’s total client base. These clients are now being required to use one pharmacy which uses a consistent, mistake proof packaging system.

“We hope to have the program fully implemented by spring,” says Vornbrock. “We have had a few clients voice concerns, for a number of reasons, and we are working through all of those concerns carefully. We want to get this right. We do, however, know single source is a proven model that improves safety as is seen in provincial long term care homes and within another health region.”

A single source pharmacy not only standardizes packaging, it improves communication between pharmacy and caregiver. “I feel like what we have done has increased safety for our clients,” says Nicole Ecklund, a registered home care nurse. “The new process is more streamlined taking up less of my work day. This allows me to spend more time caring for my clients.”

Home Care provides support to over 4,400 clients in Saskatoon. They provide services that range from professional (nursing, physiotherapy, nutritional counselling, palliative care, etc.) to support services (meal preparation, in-home respite, personal care, etc.).

Last Modified: Monday, March 13, 2017 |
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