Identification of medication safety indicators in acute care settings for public reporting in Ontario.
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In healthcare settings, indicators are useful tools to assess the structure, process and outcomes of care. Moreover, when used to report to the public, indicators ensure greater transparency for our healthcare system. The purpose of this study was to identify in acute care settings three medication safety indicators that are suitable for public reporting in Ontario. A multi-phase process was developed that included a literature review, compilation and evaluation of possible indicators and a consensus-generation process involving a focus group (modified nominal group technique) with Ontario healthcare experts from various disciplines. More than 300 potential medication safety indicators were identified through the literature review. Two analysts, working independently and using a defined set of selection criteria, narrowed the focus to 49 and subsequently 12 candidate indicators. A focus group of leading experts across the healthcare fields in Ontario was convened and reached consensus on three indicators. These three indicators focused on the areas of venous thromboembolism prevention, acute myocardial infarction discharge medications and medication reconciliation. This report describes a multi-phase process undertaken by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices Canada to identify in acute care settings three medication safety indicators suitable for public reporting in Ontario. These indicators point to important areas in medication safety at which deficiencies can result in significant patient harm. There is a potential for these indicators to provide hospitals and healthcare providers with tangible and realistic mechanisms for measuring performance and, ultimately, improving the quality of care.
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