Alberta’s leadership urged for patient safety hospital
EDMONTON – Ross Baker, the co-author of a landmark report on patient
safety, wants Alberta to lead Canada in creating a state-of-the-art
hospital that better protects patients from medical errors.
A model hospital will help make patient safety a top priority in
Canada’s health system, said Prof. Baker, of the University of Toronto,
during a recent conference. “We need an example that we can point to
that’s radically different and radically safer,” Baker told people
attending the fourth annual Canadian Healthcare Safety Symposium.
Alberta is the best place to create this model because it has the
resources, the interest from its medical community, and support for the
issue from Health Minister Gary Mar, he said. “I think that Alberta
could set the standard for Canada.”
Mar was an early supporter of the Canadian Patient Safety Institute, now
being established in Edmonton.
Baker said a model hospital would need extra funding to set a new
standard for safety measures, such as better identification of patients,
better handling of drugs, and special training for staff.
“Once you have that (model hospital), it changes the ball game,” he
said. Hospitals operating under the old rules will be embarrassed into
improving their safety standards.
Other provinces will rise to the challenge and create their own model
Without that model, he predicts safety improvement will take a long
time. Every hospital will do its small bit, but there won’t be the
wholesale change that’s needed. Baker and Dr. Peter Norton of the
University of Calgary released a study earlier this year that showed 7.5
per cent of patients in Canadian hospitals experience a setback because
of medical error, and as many as 23,000 hospital deaths a year in Canada
could have been prevented with better safety standards.
In the United States, more people die from mistakes made in hospitals
than from car accidents, breast cancer and AIDS combined, U.S. expert
Dr. James Bagian told the conference. Bagian heads the U.S. Veterans
Affairs National Centre for Patient Safety, which has made American
veterans’ hospitals a model of patient safety in recent years.
Dr. John Wade, board chair of the Canadian Patient Safety Institute,
said he hopes to work closely with Bagian’s centre as the Canadian
institute begins its work. The institute, created 10 months ago, is
looking for permanent office space in Edmonton for its small staff.
Wade said the institute intends to push for patient safety through
national accreditation procedures for hospitals and medical staff.
Provinces need to change their legislation to encourage medical staff to
report errors without fear of reprisals, said Wade. He said Saskatchewan
has just implemented a model law, which requires anonymous reporting of
all “adverse events,” as medical errors are called.