THE STARTING POINT FOR ACTION
“It is not acceptable for patients to be harmed by the health care system that is supposed to offer healing and comfort.”
from To Err is Human, an investigation by the Institute of Medicine into patient safety and medical errors,
Medical errors in the hospital setting are the third leading cause of death in Canada and the United States.
They add needless emotional trauma and distress to millions of families.
They produce billions of dollars in avoidable costs to our healthcare systems.
With medical errors taking thousands of lives every year in Canada and the United States, we think our healthcare systems need a second opinion and a more innovative approach to combating this public health crisis.
Let's start by listening to what patients and families say they really need to stay safe, and remove the barriers that are permitting this harm to continue. The Center for Patient Protection is a voice for patients and families everywhere that is leading the way.
Did you know?
Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in Canada and the United States.
30,000 hospitalized patients lose their lives to medical errors in Canada every year. That’s the equivalent of a fully loaded jumbo jet crashing and killing everyone on board each week.
The risk of avoidable death in a U.S. hospital with a D or F patient safety grade is 92 percent higher than it is in hospitals with than an A grade.
Canada has no similar hospital rating tool to allow patients and families to make informed decisions about the safety of their healthcare provider.
Canada does, however, have a system where taxpayer dollars are used to fund a legal defense scheme for doctors who harm patients. The U.S. has no such system and, unlike hospital safety scores for Canada, there is no demand that such a scheme be created in the U.S.
It is predicted that 12 million Canadians in hospital and home-care settings will be harmed by the healthcare system over the next 30 years, costing the health-care system an additional $2.75 billion per year. Another 1.2 million people will lose their lives.
Research has shown that one in 18 patients are harmed during their stay in a Canadian hospital. That adds up to a lot of patients. And a lot of harm.
Snapshots of Harm
An informed patient is a safer patient. Hospital safety ratings are an important tool for empowering patients and families to make the right decisions. So why doesn't Canada have a similar system? Patients are less safe when they are left in the dark.
The single most important step healthcare workers can take to protect patients and themselves is washing their hands before and after every patient-related contact. So why do many fail to comply?
Since 2018, PatientProtection.Healthcare and the ZeroNow Campaign have called for federal action to address gender-based gaps in healthcare and in the well-being of victims of sexual violence. In Prime Minister Trudeau’s mandate letter of December 2019 to the Minister of Health, the federal government committed to developing an action plan to reduce gender-related health gaps. Kathleen Finlay’s Hill Times op-ed is part of a series of articles and commentaries that provide insight into a way forward that can produce genuine game-changing outcomes.
Suicide is becoming an epidemic among certain population groups in Canada. Every year, at least 100,000 attempt to end their lives. Among Canadian youth, suicide is the second leading cause of death. Victims of gender-based violence and bullying are especially at risk, as are members of our indigenous communities. We call for a new approach and fresh thinking to address this public health crisis, including the creation of a national three-digit 988 suicide prevention hotline network.
Too often when seeking healing in the healthcare setting, patients and families encounter harm instead. Frequently it is disabling. Often it is life ending.
—Kathleen Finlay, founder, The Center for PatientProtection | PatientProtection.Healthcare.
Every day, patients, families, healthcare providers and the media from around the world turn to Patient Protection.Healthcare and The Center for PatientProtection for insight and information on how to create a safer, more transparent and compassionate healthcare experience.
To err is human, to cover up is unforgivable, and to fail to learn is inexcusable.
—Sir Liam Donaldson, MD
Whether we’re advocating before Parliament, intervening with a healthcare body, bringing new reforms to the policy table or being interviewed by the national news, patients and families know they have no more committed voice or stronger champion.
An important social movement seemed to emerge in the wake of “To Err Is Human,” but it has lost its way.
—Kathleen Sutcliffe, PhD
Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in Canada and the United States. They injure millions every year and add billions to the cost of our healthcare systems. Some trends, like leaving objects in patients after surgery, are getting worse. That’s why we think our healthcare systems need a second opinion when it comes to the well-being of patients and families.
A21st century approach to healthcare challenges.
From improving DNR practices to creating safer bedside care, our Patient and Family Engagement Lab builds on our extensive knowledge base of patient and family experiences. We’ve proposed the creation of the healthcare equivalent of an TSB (Canadian Transportation Safety Board) to combat medical errors and systemic infections, called for mandatory hospital reporting of medical errors and free access to patient medical records, and created a suite of powerful engagement devices like our HealthyListening Tool to improve provider communication with patients and families.
Change where it counts.
We’ve pushed for mandatory hospital disclosure of medical errors, creation of a hospital rating system (we like the Leapfrog model), an end to the typical deny and defend response when patients seek explanations for medical harm, and termination of public funding of the Canadian Medical Protective Association, which is a taxpayer-subsidized legal aid system for doctors.
Re-imagining our approach to suicide prevention.
Suicide is becoming an epidemic in some parts of our population. Among males between the ages of 14 and 24, it is the second leading cause of death. We’ve proposed the creation of a national strategy to unleash innovative solutions to combat this growing public health crisis, including adoption of a 988 national suicide prevention lifeline.
Too often, the greatest health risk to women is— being a woman.
Women still face healthcare gaps and delays in diagnosis and treatment solely based on gender. These can be life-threatening. They need to be closed and ended. We’ve called for the creation of a national safer women action plan, guided by consultations with clinicians, patients and advocates, to raise awareness and produce a blueprint for a true 21st century approach to removing these harmful gender barriers.