Strong relationships ensure safe medication transitions

Preventable, drug-related hospitalizations cost the Canadian health care system approximately $2.6 billion per year; according to a joint report from Accreditation Canada, the Canadian Institute for Health Information, the Canadian Patient Safety Institute and the Institute for Safe Medication Practices.  Further, a critical analysis entitled Making Health Care Safer II and published in 2013 suggests that at least 40 per cent of patients experience unintentional medication discrepancies at admission, transfer or discharge – incidents that could be reduced with proper medication reconciliation.  Runnymede Healthcare Centre is addressing these serious issues by managing medications before patients are admitted, during their stay, and after they return home.MORE: EBOLA: IS CANADA PREPARED?

Communicating medication information consistently across healthcare providers can reduce adverse drug-related events and contribute to the safe, high-quality care of patients. Runnymede focuses on developing strong relationships with referring hospitals, patients and families, and community health partners, to ensure that hospital staff receive the information necessary to provide exemplary care, that patients/families are informed and that they are supported by their communities.

Getting the facts

Medication reconciliation is a systematic and comprehensive review of all the medications a patient is taking to ensure that medications being added, changed or discontinued are carefully assessed and documented (Medication Reconciliation in Canada: Raising the Bar).

The medication reconciliation process at Runnymede begins before admission and is a vital part of getting to know patients and what type of care they will need. The patient flow team receive an application from the referring hospital that often includes a medication administration record, discharge summary, Best Possible Medication History (BPMH) and Best Possible Medication Discharge Plan (BPMDP). Runnymede’s strong relationships with these organizations mean that along with reviewing those documents, hospital pharmacy staff can call, email or meet with organizations to learn more. Staff ask important questions about patients’ previous experiences – information that can’t always be reflected in a standard report. Much of this work is done ahead of patients arriving at Runnymede – another benefit of working closely with referring organizations and local pharmacies that appreciate the hospital’s role in transitioning patients to their next stage of care.

Before admission, the patient flow team speak with patients and their families to discuss the patient experience at the hospital, confirm the medication information provided, and ask about any new developments or needs. That information is shared with Runnymede’s pharmacy team so they can complete their own reconciliation which is then embedded into the plans that nurses and doctors use every day to get patients back on their feet.

Getting back into the community

Throughout a patient’s time at Runnymede, staff from across the hospital work together to provide excellent care. Discharge planning begins upon admission to ensure that a thorough plan is in place for when patients are ready to return home. Runnymede staff members also sit down with patients and their family members to review the care they’ve received, how their medications have changed and what might need to happen when they go home.


Patients and their family members are provided with a report that outlines their current medications versus what they were taking on admission. This helps patients manage new and old prescription bottles at home to assist them in determining what needs to be disposed of and what can be kept.  The healthcare team also discuss the importance of family involvement and tips for a successful transition home. Runnymede maintains an open dialogue that encourages patients and family members to check in and ask questions.  Patients trust Runnymede staff and feel a connection to them because of the relationships that are cultivated during their stay at the hospital.

As staff work to ensure patients and families feel comfortable with their new medication(s), they also reach out to community health partners, such as local pharmacists, family doctors and home care providers to make sure everyone is on the same page. With patient consent, staff have the same open dialogue with community partners that has been established with referring hospitals and pharmacies. From sharing information to consulting on best practices, our staff are a resource to community partners, working together to do everything possible to help patients.

Of 452 admissions and 436 discharges last year, 100% of patients had medication reconciliations completed at admission and discharge. Since medication reconciliation is an accreditation standard, Runnymede’s adherence to these practices helped the hospital to achieve a perfect score and, earn the highly coveted Accredited with Exemplary Standing award from Accreditation Canada, the highest distinction a healthcare organization can receive. More than that, Runnymede’s strong relationships demonstrate a commitment to clinical excellence and puts patient safety first.