A female pharmacist enters information onto a tablet in the pharmacy dispensary

Quick Links

Use the quick links below to find the resources and information you need to implement and maintain Safety IQ in your pharmacy.

About Safety IQ

In healthcare, quality assurance refers to activities that ‘assure’ or promise to maintain and improve the quality of care for patients. Safety Improvement in Quality (Safety IQ) is a continuous quality improvement (CQI) program that supports community pharmacy teams in Manitoba in their efforts to prevent harm and make patient care safer.  Safety IQ is a mandatory program implemented by the College of Pharmacists of Manitoba (CPhM).

In the pharmacy field, CQI focuses on preventing medication incidents and continually looking for ways to improve medication dispensing, therapy management, and counselling. Safety IQ helps community pharmacy teams to identify, resolve, and learn when something goes wrong. Pharmacy teams follow the four key elements of Safety IQ: 

  • Report medication incidents and near-miss events 
    Community pharmacies report medication incidents and near-miss events to a software program so they can track events. All reports are de-identified and sent to a national database so patient and practitioner information is not included. Medication safety experts analyze collective data and share improvement recommendations with healthcare professionals across Canada. 
  • Document improvement plans  
    Pharmacy teams create, document, and track improvement plans to make pharmacy practice processes safer.  
  • Share learning from medication incidents and near-miss events 
    Pharmacy staff share what they learn from medication incidents and near-miss events by openly talking about medication incidents within the pharmacy team.  
  • Analyze medication incidents and near-miss events to develop improvement plans 
    Pharmacy staff analyze incident data using their reporting software tools and additional resources to develop evidence-based improvement plans. Pharmacy staff also complete a safety self-assessment to identify any risky practices in day-to-day medication preparation and dispensing.


The principles and elements of Safety IQ encourage safety culture. In a safety culture, we recognize that most incidents happen because there is something wrong with the system in which people work. When we blame and shame pharmacy professionals for medication incidents, we create a culture of fear and professionals tend to hide incidents. When incidents remain hidden, they are more likely to happen again. Safety culture must also strike a balance with accountability. Pharmacy professionals still remain accountable for their actions and CPhM is committed to maintaining professional accountability while supporting learning and positive change in pharmacy practice.

Put more simply, Safety IQ supports pharmacy teams to openly ask “how are we doing?” and “how can we do better?” without the fear of punishment or shame.  

Frequently Asked Questions

The College of Pharmacists of Manitoba (CPhM) has protected the public interest in the practice of pharmacy since it was established in 1878. The authority to oversee the practice of pharmacy in Manitoba comes from The Pharmaceutical Act.

CPhM fulfills its mandate to protect the public interest by:

  • setting qualification and practice standards for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians;
  • registering and licensing pharmacists and pharmacies and listing them in a public register;
  • listing qualified pharmacy technicians in a public register;
  • ensuring pharmacy professionals meet and maintain pharmacy practice and competence standards;
  • responding to concerns and complaints about the conduct and/or competence of pharmacists; and
  • promoting practice excellence and supporting pharmacy professionals to improve patient care and safety.

CPhM is governed by a Council that is made up of registrant-elected pharmacy professionals, public representatives, and other government-appointed members. Council oversees the pharmacy practice standards and lays out the strategic priorities, goals, and activities of CPhM staff. Together, CPhM Council, Committees, and staff work together to improve the safety and quality of pharmacy practice in Manitoba—it’s about making a great system even better. Learn more at cphm.ca

While mistakes in medication dispensing are rare in community pharmacies, they do occasionally happen. Pharmacy practice regulation in Manitoba already requires that

  • patients are safe and have any medical attention they need;
  • patients receive the right medication in a timely fashion;
  • patients have an opportunity to discuss their concerns;
  • pharmacy staff and managers are informed of the error;
  • medication prescribers are informed of the error; and
  • medication errors are investigated to find the root causes and a plan is put in place so similar errors won’t happen in the future.

Safety IQ improves the current system by ensuring that pharmacy professionals across the country share lessons about medication incidents using a standardized continuous quality improvement program.

Safety IQ enables community pharmacies to

  • anonymously report medication incidents and near-miss events to a national database;
  • enhance patient safety using standardized tools and practices;
  • learn from medication incidents and near-miss events in other pharmacies;
  • contribute to analysis that will identify causes of medication incidents in Canada and potential system safeguards; and
  • promote a culture of safety in which all pharmacy staff feel comfortable reporting and talking about medication incidents.

The Canadian Medication Incident Reporting and Prevention System (CMIRPS) is a collaborative pan-Canadian program designed to reduce and prevent harmful medication incidents in Canada. The National Incident Data Repository (NIDR) for Community Pharmacies is a component of CMIRPS hosted by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices Canada (ISMP Canada).


Information from the NIDR along with data from individual practitioners, consumers, hospitals, and long-term care reporting programs of CMIRPS is analyzed, and targeted recommendations are developed and shared with all healthcare professionals. The NIDR helps to create a cohesive information-sharing system that facilitates the understanding of medication incidents and the development of robust strategies to prevent patient harm.


The medication incident and near-miss event data sent to the NIDR is de-identified (anonymous) of both patients' and healthcare professionals’ personal information. The NIDR accepts reporting data from multiple reporting platforms using a common set of standards. Contributions to the NIDR populates national aggregate data for analysis of contributing factors and trends which can be communicated across healthcare professions.

Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) is an ongoing approach to problem-solving and harm prevention. It focuses on identifying the root cause of a problem and introducing ways to eliminate or reduce the problem. Participants in CQI are also continually reassessing to make sure new efforts are effective.

A safety culture is the shared belief and the practice of healthcare providers that make patient safety the first priority. According to the US Institute of Medicine, “the biggest challenge to moving toward a safer health system is changing the culture from one of blaming individuals for errors to one in which errors are treated not as personal failures, but as opportunities to improve the system and prevent harm.”


Medication incidents are rarely caused by a single event or the actions of a single person. Analysis of medication incidents and near-miss events often reveal a system failure that must be changed to prevent medication incidents. A safety culture encourages healthcare providers to be open about medication incidents and near-miss events so they can be reported, analyzed, and changes in practice can be made.


Healthcare providers are still accountable when medication incidents are the result of neglect or incompetence, but these situations are rare. Healthcare providers and patients benefit from understanding why a medication incident occurred and knowing that new safeguards have been put in place to prevent the medication incident from happening again.

A medication incident reporting platform is a software program that pharmacy teams use to record data on medication incidents and near-miss events. The reporting platform stores data at the store level and exports anonymous data to the National Incident Data Repository (NIDR). The software program must meet the data standards and requirements of the Medication Incident Reporting Platform Criteria.

A safety self-assessment (SSA) is a tool for pharmacy staff to examine various areas within the pharmacy to identify gaps in pharmacy practice that could put patients at risk. The goal of an SSA is to proactively identify processes or systems in the pharmacy that have the potential to cause medication incidents. Once risky practices are identified, the pharmacy has an opportunity to change the process or system to prevent medication incidents.