Strategies for Enhancing Patient Engagement and Identification

A pharmacists smiles at a patient during prescription pick-up at a community pharmacy.


“Incorrect patient” is a common patient engagement incident type reported by community pharmacies. In Manitoba community pharmacies, patient engagement contributed to 15 percent of reported harm incidents. Patient identification incidents were often related to improper procedures at prescription pick-up. Contributing factors included:

  • Similar patient names.
  • Miscommunication between patients and pharmacy staff when they confirmed patient identity.

One example of an ‘incorrect patient’ incident reported by a Manitoba community pharmacy caused a privacy breach:

“A patient’s compliance pack was delivered to the wrong patient with a similar name. The recipient knew the intended patient and delivered the compliance pack directly. The patient was upset by the breach in privacy caused by the error.”

[Patient engagement] refers to the process of building the capacity of patients, families, carers, as well as health care providers, to facilitate and support the active involvement of patients in their own care, in order to enhance safety, quality and people-centredness of health care service delivery.

2 Key Safety Elements for Prescription Pick-up

  1. Request a minimum of two patient identifiers at prescription pick-up. Preferred identifiers, in addition to the patient’s name, include the person’s address and date of birth. Ask open-ended questions when confirming a patient’s identity: “What is your full name? What is your date of birth?”
  2. At prescription pick-up, open the bag containing the prescriptions to ensure that each prescription label has the intended patient’s name on it. This is the last opportunity to verify the appropriateness of each medication and confirm patient understanding.

These two simple recommendations for patient pick-up can help reduce the chances of an incorrect patient incident in your pharmacy. Make them a part of your policy and procedure, train staff on the workflow, and post reminders to raise staff awareness.

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