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Medication Safety Self-Assessment® for Community/Ambulatory Pharmacy™


Frequently Asked Questions:

  • General Questions

How many team meetings should we schedule?

Our suggestion is to schedule three team meetings of about 1 hour each. Some testing sites have completed the assessment in less time than this, whereas others have run longer than 1 hour at a scheduled meeting. None met more than three times.

Do we need management staff on our team?

It is important to include a manager because the assessment contains questions about the overall commitment by your pharmacy (and corporation) to patient safety. In addition, participation in the self-assessment provides pharmacy management with insight into areas of risk in the pharmacy.

May I make copies of this Medication Safety Self-Assessment for Community/ Ambulatory Pharmacy?

You may make as many copies of this document as are required for your staff to complete the Self-Assessment. You are not authorized to make copies beyond this number. You may not modify or alter the content in any way. Furthermore, you may not modify, transmit, post, or use the contents of this document for personal, public, or commercial purposes unless you have obtained written permission from ISMP Canada.


  • Questions related to specific self-assessment characteristics
    (listed in ascending order of numbered criteria)

Item 12. What score do I enter if updates to the pharmacy computer system occur less frequently than every quarter?

If updates occur less frequently than every quarter, the self-assessment score should not exceed “C” (i.e., you cannot score D or E for this item).


Item 44. What is meant by “a predictive refill program”?

Predictive refill program refers to anticipating regular expected prescription refill and preparing the prescriptions in advance to manage workload more effectively.


Item 57. What is meant by “interactive patient counselling”?

The intent is to ensure that patients are provided with opportunity to ask questions about their prescription and cues around concerns are listened to and responded to by the pharmacist.


Item 72. What is meant by “error rate” in this question?

Organizations may consider using the number of voluntarily reported errors as a proportion of total doses or prescriptions dispensed as the “rate” of errors within the organization for various comparisons. However, because error reporting is not consistent and hence does not represent the true incidence of errors, this “rate” has no legitimate relevance or significance. Such calculations should not be used for internal or external comparisons.


Item 74 & 75. What is meant by management’s commitment to patient safety and the medication safety objectives?

These items of the survey relate to the overall approach to medication safety in the pharmacy. Ideally, everyone working in or for the pharmacy supports patient safety and a system-based approach to prevent medication errors. Organizations that have open, non-punitive error reporting policies, and that use the results of error analysis to institute system changes are ahead of the curve in safe medication use practices. These items in the survey must be honestly discussed by the manager and staff before the appropriate response is agreed upon.