Medication Reconciliation: Preventing Medication Errors in the Hospital

Medication errors can be serious

If your child takes medication at home, it is important that you learn what the medications are and what they are for. Taking the wrong medication or the wrong dose (amount) of a medication could make your child very ill or make the medication not work as well. You can help keep your child safe by preventing these mistakes from happening.

Medication reconciliation: Making sure your child has the right medication

While your child is in the hospital, your health care team needs to know what medications your child takes at home and then compare them to the medications ordered for him in the hospital. This process is called medication reconciliation. Reconciliation is a different way of saying "matching and comparing."

While in the hospital, your child's health care team may also make changes to the medications your child takes. You need to know the medications your child was taking at home and what changes have been made while your child was in the hospital.

Medication reconciliation is important because:

  • It reduces the chance of your child having a bad reaction to medication.
  • It gives health care providers like your doctor, nurse practitioner, nurse, and pharmacist a list of the drugs your child is taking.
  • It gives you a chance to make sure that you know about your child's medications and ask questions if you do not understand something.

Be prepared to talk about your child's medications

You can prepare so that you are ready to talk to the health care team about your child's medications at any time. You may be asked questions when you go to your family doctor, to the hospital for a scheduled procedure, or if there is an emergency.

Take these steps to make sure you are prepared:

  1. Keep a list in your purse or wallet of your child's medications. If your child is old enough, have her keep a copy of the list as well. Include:
    • the name of the medication
    • the dose and strength
    • how often your child takes the medication
  2. Either on the same list or on a separate piece of paper, list of all of your child's non-prescription medications. These are medications that you give your child that were not prescribed by a doctor. It is important that your child's health care team know if your child uses these products. Include:
    • over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol or Advil
    • vitamins
    • eye drops
    • ointments
    • nutritional supplements
    • herbal products
  3. Bring ALL your child's medications (prescription and non-prescription) to the hospital. If your child comes in on an emergency basis, you may not have time to gather these things. Your list will be important in this case.
  4. Provide your health care team with your pharmacy's phone number (found on your pill/medication bottle) and your family doctor's name and phone number.
  5. Review your child's new and old medications with your doctor, nurse practitioner, nurse, or pharmacist and ask questions if you don't understand something.

MyHealth Passport

MyHealth Passport is a website created at SickKids to help you and your child create an online Medication Record. Anyone can use this tool, no matter which hospital you go to.  You can print your medication record in a wallet-friendly format at: 


MedsCheck is a program that allows all people in Ontario who have a chronic condition and are taking 3 or more prescription drugs to meet with a pharmacist to review the medications and make sure the medications are being taken correctly. Parents and caregivers of children who are eligible may also have the appointment to review their child's medications.

For more information, contact your local pharmacy.

Key points

  • Medication errors can be serious.
  • Keep a list of all of your child's medications in your wallet or purse.
  • Bring all of your child's medications to the hospital or doctor's office.

Alastair Hodinott, MCAP

Anne Matlow, MD, FRCPC

Beverley Hales, BScPhm, MHSc

Cathy Daniels, RN, MS, ACNP

Helen Edwards, RN, BA, MN

Sheila Rowed, RN, BScN, CNN(c)

Tessie Gilhooly, RN, MN

Valerie Langlois, MD, FRCP (C)

Stanley Zlotkin, MD PhD

Renu Roy, BSP, RPh