AIMS, Spring/Summer 2020

AIMS: Identifying Areas of Risk with the PSSA

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The Pharmacy Safety Self-Assessment (PSSA) is now available on the AIMS Pharmapod platform and must be completed by community pharmacies by December 31, 2021.

The PSSA is an informative quality improvement tool that acts as a baseline of the pharmacy’s efforts to enhance patient safety over time. It can be used to proactively identify areas of potential risk, enabling pharmacy teams to plan improvement activities effectively and demonstrate system improvements.


  1. Comprehensive patient information
  2. Communication
  3. Medication storage, preparation and equipment
  4. Training and education
  5. Medication safety event management
  6. Pharmacy processes and continuing quality improvement (CQI)

The PSSA consists of six domains and is constructed with a focus on continuous quality improvement and implementation of concrete and tangible medication safety strategies. Under each domain are a series of statements that pharmacy teams can reflect on and determine the level of alignment of the pharmacy with the statement (i.e. always, sometimes, never). Where there is opportunity for improvement, actions should be created to address these opportunities. Once the assessment is complete, the actions, with defined delivery dates, will be summarized within the “Action Plan” in the AIMS Pharmapod platform for easy internal tracking. The PSSA takes a systems approach to patient safety rather than focusing on individual performance.

Under the AIMS Program, as required under the supplemental Standards of Practice and Standards of Operations, the PSSA must be completed within the first year it is available and then at least once every two or three years. It can be done more frequently if desired.

The College recently completed a preliminary rollout of the PSSA with selected community pharmacies in order to test it and collect feedback. The participants had very positive experiences with the PSSA, finding that it did not take them long and was easy to complete.

The College expects that community pharmacies will have completed the PSSA by December 31, 2021. This extended timeline, which is six months longer than the requirement in the supplemental Standard of Practice requiring completion of the PSSA in the first year of the program, recognizes that pharmacy professionals are currently dealing with many issues as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

While the Designated Manager is responsible for ensuring that the PSSA is completed, the whole pharmacy team should be involved with both the process and the implementation of ensuing improvements and actions. A user guide to support implementation of the PSSA is available in the platform.

What We Heard PSSA Pilot Group Graphic
What We Heard PSSA Pilot Group Graphic Quotes

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What We Heard from the PSSA Pilot Group
ALL pharmacies were able to complete the PSSA in less than three hours
MOST pharmacies completed the PSSA in one session
Participants STRONGLY AGREED that the PSSA is useful in supporting medication safety
“Questions were very easy to understand and very specific. “
“ The assessment definitely allows for reflection and a critical evaluation of current practices. “
“ User-friendly.“
“ Reviewed all the questions with various members of the team, specifically other pharmacists that I do not regularly observe in practice.”
“ The PSSA module simplifies the process of reporting and makes the reporting easier by improving operational efficiencies.”

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