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Leaders: Deteriorating Patient Condition 

Recognizing deteriorating patient condition – what leaders need to know 

As a healthcare leader, it's important to ensure appropriate system supports and resources are available within your organization to effectively manage the early recognition of clinical deterioration. It's also important to recognize the valuable role family members play in the recognition of clinical deterioration, and to enable open and effective communication between patients and providers.  The following information and resources will help you, your patients and their families to recognize the signs of deteriorating patient condition and to communicate openly and effectively. 

Early warning signs of deteriorating condition are often unrecognized, leading to devastating results. Research shows that virtually all critical inpatient events are preceded by warning signs that occur approximately six-and-a-half hours in advance. The most comprehensive approach to successfully managing deteriorating patient condition should include patients and their family as members of the healthcare team. It consists of: 

  1. The recognition of deteriorating condition (early warning systems).
  2. Timely and appropriate response (escalation measures). 

All of the Deteriorating Patient Condition resources are divided into the following categories. Share them with your colleagues. 

System supports 

Family members 

Paediatric setting  

Obstetrical setting 

General care setting 

Are you a patient or provider? Please share these resources with the leadership at your healthcare facility! We also offer Deteriorating Patient Condition resources specific to the public and providers. 



All of these tools, resources and information was assembled/curated by the Canadian Patient Safety Institute (now HEC) in partnership with the Healthcare Insurance Reciprocal of Canada and Patients for Patient Safety Canada. 

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