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Patient safety

B.C. implements web-based reporting tool

VICTORIA – The government of British Columbia has invested $2.3 million towards the development of a province-wide patient safety learning system, based on the success of pilot-testing at two B.C. hospitals, announced Health Minister George Abbott (pictured).

Funding from the province will allow the B.C. Patient Safety Task Force to begin initial implementation of the patient safety learning system, which assists healthcare professionals and facility staff in reporting incidents. According to the province, it’s one of the first of its kind in Canada.

“We are committed to continuously looking for ways to improve patient safety throughout British Columbia,” said Abbott. “We need to learn from adverse events if we are to reduce risk-related incidents in hospitals and health facility settings.”

The web-based reporting and learning tool was piloted at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at BC Women’s Hospital, as well as at the Vascular and General Surgery Unit at Vancouver General Hospital. The project was evaluated by the Ministry of Health, the BC Patient Safety Task Force and provincial health authorities.

Adverse events are more easily captured now by more healthcare professionals and support staff, and with greater accuracy. Between May and July 2007, the patient safety learning system showed an increase in patient safety reports at B.C. Women’s Hospital. Reports submitted during a 10-week period between June and August 2007 at Vancouver General Hospital’s Vascular and General Surgery Unit also showed an increase in patient safety events recorded by healthcare professionals and support staff.

“By providing health professionals with a system to identify concerns or incidents, we can ensure that patients have the safest environment where they receive care,” said Dr. Doug Cochrane, chair of the BC Patient Safety Task Force.

Patients in British Columbia are encouraged to take responsibility for their health by being actively involved through discussions with their healthcare professional.

The Canadian Patient Safety Institute’s national campaign, held this month, has urged hundreds of healthcare organizations and professionals across the country to become involved by promoting the role of communication. The theme of the campaign is “Patient Safety: Be Involved. Ask. Talk. Listen.”

Since 2001, British Columbia has introduced a number of new patient safety measures and strengthened existing safety measures, including expanding B.C.’s PharmaNet system and creating a Ministry of Health division dedicated to patient safety.

In January 2005, the Province announced $10 million to continue making B.C. the safest place to be a patient, which included $6 million over three years to support the Patient Safety Task Force, the Provincial Infection Control Network (PICNet BC) and the first academic Chair in Patient Safety at UBC.

B.C.’s Patient Safety Task Force’s website is available at