Eight years ago, Ross Baker and Peter Norton gave Canada a wake-up call about the harm being done to patients in this country’s hospitals, through their report “The Canadian Adverse Events Study.” When we translated their findings to Saskatchewan, it meant that one or two people were dying every day as a result of adverse events in our hospitals.
While in our care, 300 and 600 people are killed every year. These are people’s grandparents, their mothers and fathers, their siblings, their sons and daughters. I thought, perhaps naively, that this sobering statistic would shake the health system out of its “mistakes are inevitable” thinking and agitate the public to say “what the…?”
It didn’t. We have seen some promising and inspiring improvements in patient safety. But we’re far from being a health system where there is intolerance for any harm that befalls those whom we care for or those who provide the care. We have a long way to go before we can say “Our first priority is zero defects” — a variation on the Hippocratic oath, courtesy of Dr. Otero of the Virginia Mason Institute in Seattle.
So why haven’t we moved faster to make care safer? Maybe it’s because the vast majority of discussions about patient safety and harm have been carried on quietly amongst ourselves within the system – rather than being shared broadly and regularly, including publicly.
That’s changing, thankfully. At least in Manitoba. I just learned of two amazing sites that demonstrate HUGE transparency. The first — on the website of Manitoba’s Health Ministry — provides detailed reports on critical incidents, with a few sentences describing each one. The second is a CBC News website that reports in detail on critical incidents happening in that province’s health care system.
In Saskatchewan, we say we’re committed to growing a culture of safety across our health system. Perhaps a good way to start walking the talk would be to follow Manitoba’s lead, and be absolutely transparent about the harm we’re causing to patients in this province. Don’t you think it’s time to move this quiet conversation out into the open?
What did you think of this post? Did it affirm your view on the topic? Change your thinking? Let us know, using the Inspire-o-meter below.