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Opioid Stewardship

Opioid medications are used to treat pain. Opioids are also known as narcotics. In recent years more and more Canadians are using opioids, and research indicates that we are now the world's second largest consumer of opioids. Along with this increased use of opioids there has also been a corresponding and alarming increase in the harm from opioids.

ISMP Canada is the leading medication safety organization in Canada. Through our ongoing analysis of medication safety incidents, we have found that opioids are frequently associated with harmful consequences-including death-when they are prescribed, used or administered incorrectly or in error.

In response, we have created an Opioid Stewardship Program to help people to become better informed about opioids and to help reduce and prevent harm. This web page has been developed to provide members of the public and health care practitioners with useful and accurate information regarding opioids.


Opioid Prescribing Supports:

Opioid Prescribing Tools:

Pain Check In: The Pain Check In is a structured approach to information gathering using pre-existing instruments that will give prescribers better information with which to assess the pain patient and engage in collaborative decision making. The tool helps to standardize some of the information collected during pain related visits and addresses a lack of consistency in how clinicians approach pain related visits. The Pain Check In allows the patient to complete a series of paper or electronic forms in the waiting room prior to the visit that can be placed in the paper chart, or EMR. The physician can then review the information in order to facilitate sound decisions about pain management.

Healthcare Providers

ISMP Canada Safety Bulletins and Other Resources for Healthcare Providers:

General information:
Information for Hospitals:
Information for Long-term Care Homes:
Information for community-based care providers:


Information related to specific medications (in alphabetical order):

Fentanyl (transdermal):