Andrew’s Impact


The Assurance and Improvement in Medication Safety Program is a standardized medication safety program for community pharmacies in Ontario and its goal is to reduce patient harm from medication errors. It is a continuous quality improvement program and puts in place a mandatory consistent standard for medication safety for all pharmacies in the province. In January of 2017, the Ontario College of Pharmacists (OCP) included me on the task force that planned the program; this was the first time they had included a member of the public on a project like this. They did that not only to get my perspective on what the program should look like, but also to put a face and a concrete reason as to why it is a necessity. If you look at the logo, you will see that the A and the S are dark blue, as those are Andrew’s initials. At the September 17, 2019 Council meeting, on World Patient Safety Day, Council recognized me as an Honorary Member for my work on the College’s Assurance and Improvement in Medication Safety (AIMS) Program and for my outstanding contributions to advancing medication safety in Ontario.

Education Resources

Andrew’s story continues in a new textbook for Canadian Pharmacy Technicians and Assistants. His story is included in the chapter on medication safety and error prevention.

HealthPRO Implements CAS numbers

One of the recommendations from the analysis of Andrew’s incident analysis was to include a unique chemical identifier for each ingredient in formulas provided to pharmacies. The Chemical Abstracts Services (CAS) registry number is recognized globally and provides a unique, unmistakable identifier for chemical substances. Several advancements have been made with regard to the implementation and use of this number:

    • HealthPRO Procurement Services Canada added the CAS number to its online contracting criteria and published an article describing its work to advance safety. This was done to encourage the use of unique CAS numbers on product labels and improve clarity in the contracting process. 
    • In 2021, the Ontario College of Pharmacists published an article about the potential for unique CAS numbers to reduce medication errors.
    • The National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities (NAPRA) has included the CAS number as an example of a unique identifier in its Master Formulation Record template
    • A Canadian health care organization recently shared that they have integrated the CAS number into the drug description record used in their electronic system for dispensing and compounding.

These system based changes will contribute to the prevention of recurrence.

Information courtesy of Safer Labelling of Repackaged Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients for Pharmacy Compounding. ISMP Canada Safety Bulletin. Volume 22, Issue 9. August 10, 2022.

ISMP Canada

In September 2019, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices Canada (ISMP Canada) hired me as Patient and Family Advisor, an inaugural role. Since then, I have been leading and supporting projects that have direct implications for consumers and that require consumer perspective to help shape them, wholly. Some of the projects that I have led and supported are:

  • Leading the team to launch , a platform where all consumers can report medication errors.
  • Faculty lead for Resident and Family Engagement in the Strengthening Medication Safety in Ontario Long-term Care initiative. 
  • Leading work to develop children's medication safety resource called 5 Questions to Ask About my Medicine
  • Leading the CAS Number work with HealthPRO listed above
  • Leading a project that examined the impact of the uptake of virtual care in primary care settings
  • Working with multi-disciplinary team members on many other projects that have implications for consumers

Cross Canada Impact

Together with the College of Pharmacists of Manitoba and many other specialists, I contributed to the creation and development of a toolkit for community pharmacists in that province. This resources helps pharmacists as they implement and maintain their quality improvement program called Safety IQ. It helps them to work towards and understand the importance of working in a culture of safety which is critical to preventing medication errors. This document supports pharmacists’ shift to reporting errors and near misses, accountability, and ultimately, improved patient safety.

I travelled to Saskatchewan to help launch their CQI program called, COMPASS (Community Pharmacy Professionals Advancing Safety in Saskatchewan). Community pharmacists are actively reporting medication errors and near misses.

I have give the keynote speech at several conferences across the country including BC Pharmacist Association, Ontario Pharmacist Association and Canadian Pharmacist Association.

Andrew’s Story is Highlighted Internationally

In July of 2019, I was the keynote speaker at the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s conference in Sydney. I spent a week speaking to a variety of audiences: consumers, insurance providers, pharmacists, media and government officials. At the conference, the Federal Minister of Health declared that medication safety would be made a national priority for the country. 

At the 6th Annual World Patient Safety, Science & Technology Summit, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, mentioned Andrew in his opening speech when he spoke to international delegates about the importance of eradicating preventable harm from medical error. Andrew’s legacy has reached international levels.

I now sit on the World Health Organization's (WHO) World Patient Safety Day Steering Committee with international leaders in patient safety.

Canadian Pharmacists Journal Article

Journal Article, "Expansion of patient safety regulatory requirements in community pharmacy in Canada: The Melissa Sheldrick effect?"

My advocacy work was highlighted in the Canadian Pharmacists Journal in 2019. The article posited that the advocacy work that I was doing was responsible for the sudden uptake of provincially standardized patient safety programs. “The movement toward Canadian-wide community pharmacy error reporting and the integration of CQI/A practices to enhance patient safety is now well under way. That is an outcome of which we can all be proud and for which we can credit Melissa Sheldrick.” 

Harvard Medical School - SQIL

When I started my advocacy work, I set out on a steep learning curve. With lots of reading, researching and working with experts in the patient safety space, I began to learn about the importance of my lived experience. But there was more to learn, so with the recommendation of a dear friend, I enrolled in the Safety, Quality, Informatics and Leadership (SQIL) Certificate Program from Harvard Medical School Postgraduate Education. Bringing the voice of the patient/caregiver to my global cohort was an added bonus. To many, patient engagement and lived experience was a new concept. What an opportunity to share my perspective and become a Harvard Alumnus!

Patients for Patient Safety Canada (PFPSC)

I have been an active member of PFPSC since 2017 and am currently the Chair of the Membership Committee. We are an arm of the WHO Patients for Patient Safety Network and are a group of patients and caregivers who have experienced harm in healthcare. We work alongside healthcare providers, standard setting organizations, government, safety organizations, universities, in research and so much more. Our Vision is “Every Patient Safe”.

If you would like to have me speak to an audience, please send me a message through my contact page.