By Jennifer Zelmer
My favourite neighbour is a retired nurse who stays in touch with many of her former colleagues. When she recently had planned surgery, patient safety and the safety of those caring for her in hospital were on her mind, knowing that healthcare is under strain. Fortunately, all went smoothly and she’s delighted to be recuperating at home, which has given us a chance to spend time together and talk about the theme of this year’s recent Canadian Patient Safety Week, “Press Play on Safety Conversations.”
Now more than ever, we encourage everyone - whether giving or receiving care - to have safety conversations that can reduce unintended harm. And to act on them.
According to data recently released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), during 1 in 17 hospital stays in Canada in 2021-22, people experienced unintended harm that evidence-informed approaches can help to prevent. That’s about 140,000 out of 2.4 million hospital stays. Overall hospital harm is up from a pre-pandemic rate of 5.4 per 100 hospitalizations in 2019-20 - a rate that had been stable since it was first reported in 2014-15.
While most people cared for in hospitals in Canada receive safe care, unintended harm does happen. Of that measured in the CIHI data:
- 47 percent involved healthcare and medications, such as bed sores or getting the wrong medication
- 31 percent were related to infections, such as surgical site infections
- 18 percent were procedure-related, such as bleeding after surgery
- 4 percent involved patient accidents, such as falls
Safety is not simply the absence of harm, but a sustained, proactive effort involving everyone in the care journey. And it matters not only in hospitals but in all care settings. We appreciate everyone - as providers and recipients of care - taking opportunities to ask, listen and act to help reduce risks and deliver safer care. Thank you.
Resources at your fingertips
We offer many evidence-informed resources and steps that you can take to help improve safety and reduce unintended harm. Visit SafetyConversations.ca.
- Dig deeper into safety conversations at the recorded webinar on Now is the Time to Press Play on Safety Conversations.
- Learn more from our list of quality and safety tools and resources to help you make care safer, especially for older adults.