Will the IOM Report on Diagnostic Errors Make Any Difference?

The prognosis for the IOM’s newest bombshell on diagnostic errors is not encouraging. Its first report in 1999 on medical errors promised a 50 percent reduction in 5 years.  Since then the number of deaths has soared to the point where hospital harm is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. and Canada.   […]

Less to Canada’s Hospital “Never” List Than Meets the Eye

More than a decade late and half the size of the U.S. version, Canada’s hospital “never” list falls short in giving patients and families the protection they need (Published in The Huffington Post, September 23, 2015) As of last Friday, sawing off the wrong limb became a “never” event in Canada. It’s one of 15 incidents the Canadian Patient Safety Institute […]

Snapshots of Hospital Harm

“Too often, healthcare organisations, through their inept and unfeeling responses, amplify these later waves of harm rather than mitigating their damaging effects.”  Sir Liam Donaldson, M.D., world-renowned patient safety advocate. Patients and families share their stories about medical errors and their emotional impact We hear heart-wrenching stories every day from patients and families who have experienced […]

Quiet Heroes Are Making Hospitals Safer

(Published in The Huffington Post) 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 by one time investment […]

Canada Needs a National Hospital Rating System

A safe patient is an informed patient.  In today’s world, that means having the information we need to make informed healthcare choices.   Nowhere is this more important than in the hospital setting. In the United States, the move to make hospitals safer has spun a virtual cottage industry of rating systems that score hospitals on […]

Three Ways to Help Your Family Navigate a Safer Hospital Experience

(Published in the Huffington Post May 8, 2015)   Being hos­pi­tal­ized today presents a seri­ous dilemma to both patients and fam­i­lies. You need hos­pi­tal care because of some con­di­tion or dis­ease. But you may also need pro­tec­tion from the hos­pi­tal and the harm that can occur. One night several years ago, when my mother was […]

Hospital Pharmacy Placed Patients at Risk

An investigation by Canada’s largest regulator of pharmacists found that a hospital in south-central Ontario was allowing an unregulated pharmacy assistant to work in its pharmacy without required supervision by a licensed pharmacist.  The work included entering doctor’s prescriptions into the computer prior to being sent to the nursing floor. The investigation followed complaints that […]

A world-class medical error

(Published in The Huffington Post, October 8, 2014) Thomas Eric Duncan, the patient who was sent home by a Texas hospital even while presenting with the early stages of the Ebola virus, has died. Each day, families around the world face the tragedy of medical errors and hospital mistakes that end in death or extreme […]

Anti-Psychotic Drugs a Problem in Hospitals, Too

A government agency in Ontario has called for nursing homes in that province to re-evaluate their use of anti-psychotic medications like quetiapine (marketed under the brand name Seroquel).  Health Quality Ontario says that up to 60 percent of residents in some nursing homes are receiving the drug. In the majority of cases, the medication is […]