Communication with patients about possible side effects of medicines | HQCA Focus

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Communication with patients about possible side effects of medicines

Patients’ overall experience with communication about medicines, specifically possible side effects. (see data dictionary)

What do you see?

  • Are there any trends over time at the emergency department(s) where you work or would be most likely to visit?
  • Are there differences in patient experiences between hospitals of the same type (e.g., Large Urban)?

Why is it meaningful?

  • Is there a relationship between this data and another healthcare area?
  • Do you see successes worth highlighting or opportunities for improvement?

Understanding “communication with patients about possible side effects of medicines”

Surveying patients about their experiences in the emergency department provides a voice for patients about the quality of their care. A key part of their experience can be determined by communication about their medicine, specifically, possible side effects of their medicines.

The HQCA asked emergency department patients, who were given medicine, two questions about their experience.

The questions were:

  • Before giving you any new medicine, did the doctors or nurses describe possible side effects to you in a way you could understand?
  • Before giving you pain medicine, did the doctors and nurses describe possible side effects in a way you could understand? 

For each question, the respondents could choose “yes, definitely”, “yes, somewhat”, or “no”. The responses “yes, definitely” or “yes, somewhat” are included in the chart above.

Many patients receiving emergency care are provided with medicine. When used correctly, medicine can help patients feel better or even save their lives. However, there are safety risks if patients don’t know about side effects. To take a more active role in their medication safety, it is important for patients to understand the possible side effects of the medicine they are taking.

If there is effective communication about medicine, patients’ overall rating of their emergency department experience may improve.

Understanding the HQCA’s emergency department patient experience survey

Every two weeks, the HQCA conducts a telephone survey with a random sample of patients from each of the 16 emergency departments reported on this website. The patient input collected in the surveys is then analyzed by the HQCA and the results of the question above, and six others, are uploaded to this website every quarter (three months). See our About the Data page to learn more about the survey methodology.
Results for November 2019 to July 2020 are not available for the University of Alberta Hospital and the Stollery Children’s Hospital.

Alberta Quality Matrix for Health

The Health Quality Council of Alberta uses the Alberta Quality Matrix for Health as a way of organizing information and thinking around the complexity of the healthcare system. This measure can be used as input to assess the emergency department’s performance in these dimensions of quality: Acceptability and Safety.