Vanessa was the fifteen-year-old daughter of the then Conservative Member of Parliament Terence Young. Vanessa suffered a stomach ailment and was prescribed medication as a result. Soon after beginning the medication, Vanessa sadly died of a heart attack. The drug she had been prescribed was later found to be unsafe and was pulled from the market. Mr. Young thereafter pushed for more stringent legislation to protect Canadians from unsafe drugs and for a better drug-monitoring system.
The result was the Protecting Canadians from Unsafe Drugs Actpassed in November of 2014. It has become known as Vanessa’s Law. It amended the Food and Drugs Actby adding the obligation that prescribed health care institutions (hospitals) were to report any negative experiences with therapeutic medications and medical devices.
A serious adverse drug reaction (SADR) is defined under the legislation as:
noxious and unintended response to a drug that occurs at any dose and that requires in-patient hospitalization or prolongation of existing hospitalization, causes congenital malformation, results in persistent or significant disability or incapacity, is life-threatening or results in death.
A medical device incident (MDI) is defined under the legislation as:
n incident related to a failure of a medical device or a deterioration in its effectiveness, or any inadequacy in its labelling or in its directions for use that has led to the death or a serious deterioration in the state of health of a patient, user, or other person, or could do so were it to recur.
Amendments to the Regulations made under the Food and Drugs Act and Vanessa’s Law are now passed and will come into force on December 16th, 2019. They seek to better outline the scope of the reporting obligation. They will impact virtually all hospitals in Canada.
According to the amendments, the required report must be submitted in writing within thirty days of the reporting incident and must include:
Hospitals are exempted from the reporting requirements where:
Practicing up-to-date compliance with the law is the best way to avoid litigation in the future. To ensure compliance with all applicable health care regulations and legislation, it's best to reach out to an experienced health care lawyer who is up to date on all applicable laws and amendments.
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