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The purpose of this paper is to examine the opportunity for supply chain processes and infrastructure to reduce the risk of medical error and create traceability of adverse events in community care settings. Patient safety has become an important area of focus over the past few decades, with medical error now accounting for the third most common cause of death in Canada and the USA. The majority of patient safety studies to date have focused specifically on safety in hospital settings; however, deaths and harm experienced by patients in the community (home care, long-term care, complex care and rehabilitation settings) are not well understood.

This paper discusses the evidence that adverse events occur at similar, if not more, frequent rates in community care settings.

The authors propose that above and beyond current efforts to increase awareness and promote a “safety culture” in health-care settings, system infrastructure should be designed in a way that enables clinicians to provide the safest care possible. There is currently no line of sight across the health-care continuum. The authors suggest that improving system infrastructure would reduce the occurrence of adverse events.

Such visibility across the continuum of care holds the potential to transform health-care in Canada from a fragmented system, where information is inadequately captured and transferred from provider to provider, to a system that provides complete, accurate and up-to-date information regarding patient care, procedures, medications and outcomes so as to provide the best and safest care possible. System visibility achieves quality and safe care, which is transparent and accountable and achieves value for patients.

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