For more than a decade, Kathleen’s work regularly appeared in The Huffington Post. During that time, she contributed more commentaries on patient safety and medical errors than any other author and more than any patient safety advocate in Canada. Her thoughts and ideas have influenced, inspired and informed countless patients, families and healthcare professionals around the world. Some of her more popular pieces are now available here. (Please note that the headlines for these stories were written by editors, not the author. In some cases, they provide a clumsy, if not distorted, picture of the contents of the article. Not every author has the good fortune to have a Maxwell Perkins in the editor’s chair!)
Canadians who experience medical harm at the hands of the health-care system they pay for are often chagrined to learn that, if they pursue their legal remedies in court, they are also footing the bill to defend the very physicians they claim have harmed them. Now it seems that Canadian taxpayers have been victimized by this system, too.
06/19/2017 03:47 EDT
A recent Canadian study for all provinces except Quebec reported that one in 18 hospitalized patients experienced avoidable
02/27/2017 02:29 EST
Health-care cultures that will not acknowledge or admit to medical errors, and therefore fail to learn from them, or permit expressions of resentment and disrespect by care teams (and administrators) to patients and families seeking information are the very antithesis of what patients need and what a caring society should accept.
09/21/2016 11:08 EDT
You expect that casinos are going to be slanted in favour of the house. But you don’t imagine those kind of odds when it comes to complaints about hospitals and health-care providers that may have caused avoidable medical or emotional harm.
11/20/2015 11:23 EST
While our hospitals save lives every day, they are also the third leading cause of avoidable death every year. In Canada, medical errors and hospital-acquired infections claim between 30,000 and 60,000 lives annually. Thousands more are injured. But to the public, these incidents are largely invisible.
10/24/2015 08:39 EDT
The sense of disrespect many encounter in their efforts to protect a hospitalized loved one is often compounded by the emotional trauma that comes later with a feeling of abandonment in a sea of unanswered questions.
10/08/2015 06:24 EDT
A recent report from one of the most respected medical authorities in the world, is yet another jolting reminder that reducing harm to patients and families remains one of the foremost challenges facing our healthcare systems.
10/01/2015 08:30 EDT
My experience is that patients and families who have been harmed by medical errors in the hospital setting have a lot to offer about what needs to be done to make the system safer. Many are especially articulate about the emotional harm their experience caused.
09/23/2015 08:30 EDT
In Canada, it’s not clear to what extent inpatient suicides, or unsuccessful attempts that lead to disability, are considered “never events” by healthcare decision makers, or who is keeping track of them for that matter. The fact is there is a wall of secrecy that surrounds hospital suicide and attempts at self-harm in Canada.
09/15/2015 12:17 EDT
A new Canadian study shows that age is a critical factor in the kind of treatment patients receive. According to the research, which involved patients with traumatic spinal cord injuries, “patients over 70 years of age experienced considerable delays between admission and surgery.”
07/07/2015 05:37 EDT
Visit any major city in North America and you will quickly discover the link between cash and name recognition in healthcare. Some rich person gives a few million to an urban hospital and their name goes up on a wing. Recently, a generous $3 million donation to Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital was celebrated in a full-page advertisement in Canada’s national newspaper
06/24/2015 12:30 EDT
the Canadian Medical Protective Association says it is “valued as an essential component of the Canadian healthcare system.” But for patients who have experienced injury at the hands of a doctor, this organization looks more like the Darth Vader of the medico-legal system.
06/11/2015 05:36 EDT
In the U.S., the Center for Patient Protection recently reviewed the data top hospital rating organizations provide about hospital safety performance. They cover the smallest community hospitals right up to the biggest teaching facilities, in a format where access to the information is quick and user-friendly. You won’t find similar information anywhere in Canada.
05/28/2015 05:33 EDT
A government agency in Ontario has called for nursing homes in that province to re-evaluate their use of antipsychotic medications like quetiapine (marketed under the brand name Seroquel). What is missing from these studies and investigations, however, is what is happening with these drugs in hospitals. I learned about Seroquel, like so many patients and families have, the hard way.
05/20/2015 05:25 EDT
As consumers, we’ve long insisted on having access to information about the products we buy — whether they’re automobiles or coffee makers. The same transparency pressures are now overtaking the healthcare sector. Except in Canada.
05/13/2015 12:55 EDT
When patients cannot be fully engaged with their care and the decisions being made, that responsibility becomes the family’s. There is no more precious gift you can give your mom or dad than the gift of hospital safety. My mother’s doctors repeatedly warned that her demise was imminent. Without a vigilant family, it would have been.
05/08/2015 08:31 EDT
Patient Protection Canada has heard from families across the country and beyond about their horrible hospital experiences. Almost none ever received an apology. That cold, hard reality is backed up by my own experience involving the lengthy hospitalization of my elderly mother a few years ago. Despite raising a number of questions and concerns about these and other matters, and never even hinting at legal action, no apology was ever forthcoming from this major hospital.
Thomas Eric Duncan, the patient who was sent home by the Texas hospital even while presenting with the early stages of the Ebola virus, has died. In the case of Mr. Duncan and the global fear of Ebola, the world can now see the consequences of medical errors and the predictable pattern of excuses that follows.
10/08/2014 12:40 EDT
A shocking CBC/Canadian Press investigation has again confirmed how powerful anti-psychotic drugs are being abused. This time, the news is about quetiapine, marketed under the brand name Seroquel, being given to female inmates in Canadian prisons.
04/15/2014 05:48 EDT
Nobody takes on a hospital or embarks on a campaign for safer care without good reason. There are a whole range of institutions and resources that are stacked against you, from big law firms to hospital patient relations departments which are there mainly to do management’s bidding. Don’t even think about trying to get anywhere with a hospital’s board of directors. There seems to be some unwritten rule in Canada that no matter how urgent or justified the matter, a hospital board will never respond to the pleas of a family seeking answers.
04/05/2014 07:19 EDT
Should a hospital really have something called a “Quality Dying Initiative?” Apparently, Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre thinks so. And because it is Canada’s largest teaching hospital, what it does carries considerable weight with hospitals across the country.
02/25/2014 05:13 EST
Want to know another proven and really cheap method of improving patient safety? Wash your hands. So serious is the failure of doctors, nurses and other clinicians to follow this simple age-old motherly dictum, that the Ontario government requires hospitals to regularly report their level of pre-patient and post-patient hand hygiene compliance.
02/11/2014 05:28 EST
Three years ago, on a crisp November morning, my mother fell down a long flight of stairs in her home. I didn’t know at the time that her life, and mine, were also about to descend into a dark and often agonizing journey through Canada’s healthcare system. By the time this second hospital was through with my mother, her demise was said to be “imminent.”
11/15/2013 09:33 EST
One of the great unreported stories of the Canadian healthcare system is the avidity of hospitals to use limited taxpayer funds to hire lawyers, with the acquiescence of political leaders, in an effort to evade accountability or to silence families and others who raise inconvenient questions.
11/08/2013 12:38 EST
There is a medical emergency rolling across the land and into its hospital rooms. It is the epidemic of hospital medical errors that is literally killing thousands of patients each year. There are numerous reasons that have been put forth as to why there continue to be so many medical errors. Perhaps what is required is not a no-fault culture, but one where it actually becomes unlawful not to report medical errors.
11/02/2013 12:16 EDT
A recent landmark ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada rejected a doctor’s unilateral right to deny life-sustaining medical treatment to a patient over the family’s objections. Attention needs to turn now to another life and death situation that is often bewildering and sometimes fraught with abuse: the do-not-resuscitate (DNR) decision when made by a family on behalf of a loved one. Physicians will often seek a DNR consent from a family member when an older patient is brought into the hospital. Their approach can be overly aggressive. I experienced this several years ago when my mother was hospitalized with a serious infection.
10/25/2013 12:38 EDT
Many Canadians have learned the hard way that their healthcare system is not nearly as safe as it needs to be. My family’s eye-opening experience began a few years ago with the sudden hospitalization of our elderly mother, who sustained a serious brain injury after a fall. We knew this was going to be a life-altering event. What we did not anticipate was a second trauma caused by horrific failures during her hospitalization.
10/18/2013 05:54 EDT
I took time away from my professional activities some three years ago after my mother suffered a traumatic brain injury. I had no idea then that my life, and especially my career and income, would face a second trauma. My experience is apparently not uncommon.
y and fairness going forward.
09/28/2012 05:10 EDT