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The Surprising Fact About Patient Safety in Canada and What We Can Do to Improve It

Posted on October 27, 2014 by Shelagh Maloney

According to the Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI), between 9,000 and 24,000 Canadians die each year from preventable adverse events in hospitals. This number is surprising — but even more so when you consider that more deaths result each year from patient safety incidents than from breast cancer, motor vehicle accidents and HIV combined.

I think we can all agree these numbers are far too high – but I also believe we all have a role to play in driving these numbers down. There are a couple of initiatives going on over the next few weeks that can both raise awareness of patient safety and help us in our efforts to reduce the number of adverse events.

This week, the CPSI is celebrating Canadian Patient Safety Week (CPSW) and hosting Canada’s Forum on Patient Safety and Quality Improvement in Edmonton. These annual events are aimed at sharing information about best practices in patient safety with health care professionals, patients and their families across Canada – all in an effort to improve patient safety in Canada.

This year also marks the CPSI’s 10th anniversary, and CPSW will celebrate the incredible work of patient safety in Canada over the past ten years. Congratulations to all involved – much has been accomplished over the last decade – and much work remains to be done.

At Infoway we believe that technology and digital health innovation play a significant role in improving patient safety. According to a 2012 survey, 93% of physicians said electronic medical records (EMRs) allow them to provide improved care.[1] Access to EMRs allows physicians to make better informed decisions. Similarly, drug information systems play an important role in reducing adverse events caused by medication interactions. Patient portals can also empower patients and provide them with the tools they need to better manage their own care.

To celebrate and recognize how digital health is transforming health care in Canada, leading Canadian health care organizations, including the CPSI, have established Digital Health Week (DHW), taking place from November 10th to the 14th. DHW, as part of our larger Better Health Together Campaign, will increase awareness of the value and benefits of digital health among Canadians.

One of the major changes in the health system over the last decade has been the involvement of the patient as a strong voice in advocating for safer care. “Nothing about me, without me” has become a strong rally cry that the CPSI and the patient safety movement has wholeheartedly embraced. CPSW and DHW allow us to further engage Canadians, celebrate how far we’ve come and continue to move the agenda forward. I encourage you to engage by registering at http://www.asklistentalk.ca/.

[1] Alberta Physician Office System Program Benefits Survey First vs Second Response Analysis, October 2012

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Shelagh MaloneyShelagh Maloney

Shelagh Maloney is responsible for driving the implementation and adoption of patient-centred digital health solutions and patient engagement activities. She oversees evaluation efforts that measure the benefits of digital health investments in Canada and leads the development and execution of all of Infoway’s communications and marketing efforts.

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