AIMS, Fall 2019

AIMS: Expert Recommendations and Important Reminders

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The Assurance and Improvement in Medication Safety (AIMS) Program has reached a significant milestone, with the majority of community pharmacies in Ontario now able to access the online platform – administered by Pharmapod – to anonymously record all medication incidents and near misses as part of the College’s mandatory medication safety program.

Collecting this information is an important step in preventing errors that can lead to patient harm, as well as strengthening the public’s trust in pharmacy professionals. By moving towards a more standardized, accurate and complete tracking of medication events, pharmacies are contributing valuable information that will help staff improve safety by applying and sharing the lessons learned from medication incidents and near misses.


Medication incidents can and do happen, but they are also preventable. A key component to preventing medication events is building a safety culture within pharmacies. This can be done by:

  • encouraging colleagues in the pharmacy to record medication incidents and near misses without fear of blame;
  • discussing what happened as a team and what can be learned from these events; and
  • identifying any improvements that could be made to prevent them in the future, and implementing them.

These are important steps that, when put into common practice, promote patient safety and support continuous quality improvement. Onboarded pharmacies can access their own individual data as well as aggregate provincial data through the AIMS Pharmapod platform to facilitate these discussions and learn from medication events.


An important resource for pharmacy teams is the first expert bulletin that was released, along with a supplementary data snapshot, on World Patient Safety Day in September.

This Taking AIMS Bulletin provided a preliminary analysis of medication event data collected by onboarded community pharmacies from Feb. 1, 2018 to May 31, 2019. It established a solid foundation from which to further develop and provide information and recommendations for pharmacy and other health system professionals to enhance patient safety and reduce the risk of medication incidents and near misses.

All pharmacy professionals are encouraged to review the Taking AIMS expert bulletin and evaluate how the recommendations may be applied in your practice to help prevent medication incidents and near misses.


As pharmacy professionals become familiar with the program and platform, it’s important to keep the following in mind:

  • Pharmacy professionals should onboard to the platform as soon as possible once receiving the invitation from Pharmapod (the College’s vendor for the platform).
  • All users of the AIMS Pharmapod platform must complete the web-based training program that is available through the platform. These mandatory training modules are quick and cover both the use of the platform for recording incidents and near misses and for continuous quality improvement (CQI), and provide guidance on how to implement CQI processes within your pharmacy.
  • It is important that when entering an incident or near miss in the platform, the user chooses the best possible option for “Incident Type” (what happened) and “Contributing Factors” (why it happened) from the dropdown menu. Avoid using “other” as much as possible as it makes it more difficult to track incident trends.
  • Near misses provide important learnings for pharmacies and pharmacy professionals. Review the Pharmacy Connection article Exercise Professional Judgment When Deciding to Record a Near Miss to understand when near misses should be recorded.

The College recognizes the efforts of the thousands of community pharmacies and pharmacy professionals who have embraced the AIMS Program and a safety culture that thrives on shared learnings, accountability and a commitment to continuous quality improvement.

The College is also working collaboratively with our hospital partners to explore how AIMS can be implemented in hospital pharmacies using existing systems for medication incident reporting.

You can learn more about AIMS and access AIMS Program Resources, a supplementary data snapshot, and FAQs on the College website.

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