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CPSI Share                                                  
1/25/2019 6:00 AM

SuperSHIFTER Stephen Routledge is a health/public policy professional with expertise leading multi-stakeholder projects and building partnerships at the regional, national and international level. Stephen is a Senior Program Manager at the Canadian Patient Safety Institute, leading the next evolution of the Global Patient Safety Alerts program.

What is Global Patient Safety Alerts?

Global Patient Safety Alerts (GPSA) is a publicly-available online collection of indexed patient safety incidents, containing more than 1,500 alerts and 7,500 recommendations from 26 contributing organizations around the world. The program supports global efforts on patient safety reporting, learning and sharing through the Canadian Patient Safety Institute's designation as a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Patient Safety and Patient Engagement.

The tool promotes cross-jurisdictional learning and encourages transparency and a culture of improvement among the global patient safety community. Contributing organizations publicly share information about identified patient safety risks and their recommendations on effective strategies to prevent reoccurrence and patient harm. Users can access evidence-informed recommendations to help them analyze, manage and learn from patient safety incidents, and connect with organizations that have valuable insight and strategies to reduce harm. The database also includes information on emerging and trending patient safety risks, quality improvement methodologies and risk communication strategies.

Global Patient Safety Alerts is free to use! Users can search by keyword, browse through general topic areas such as medications or surgery, or access submissions from a specific contributor. Last year alone, there were more than 13,000 views of specific GPSA summaries, by users from over 40 countries.

What makes Global Patient Safety Alerts innovative?

GPSA is a learning system, not a reporting system; it promotes cross-jurisdictional learning and transparency. We take information that other organizations have compiled on what they have learned from serious incidents and serious harm, and provide the platform to share that information with other organizations, so that they can learn from it. I don't know of another program that does that.

Patient harm doesn't have to occur repeatedly because the information on how to minimize or prevent harm stays locally. When organizations are willing to share information, learn from one another, and implement the recommendations that come out of patient safety reviews that demonstrates their commitment to a patient safety culture of learning and improving.

Can you tell us more about the Global Patient Safety Alerts contributions?

Any kind of patient safety or health organization can contribute and the contributor has the final say on what alerts, advisories and information are shared globally. Currently, our contributors are primarily regional health authorities, quality councils and governments. We don't include drug and medical device recalls, because the level of detail is so different from country to country and regulatory agencies are better to manage the recalls.

The wealth and the style of information are different among contributors. There are some outstanding contributions that include large-scale aggregate and trending analyses of 1,000 incidents that have occurred, and then we have a lot of contributions that provide an analysis of a single event, which is useful for users as well. Some advisories or alerts look a little more academic, while others include pictures and animations, but the intent is the same among all of them. Simply, it is an aggregate or single patient safety event that we include.

How do you address concerns about confidentiality?

There is always that concern. As part of Global Patient Safety Alerts we have a review process to ensure that under no circumstances is there any kind of patient information included. And, if privacy is an issue, that is not anything that we post. We take confidentiality and privacy very seriously so anything that could compromise that is not posted.

One of the barriers we run into with potential contributing organizations is that the information could be perceived negatively in the public in the sense that they're being open with things that have gone wrong in their health system. But, really with transparency it is demonstrating that willingness to be better, in both quality improvement and patient safety. We work with those contributing organizations to help them understand how this is a positive push for patient safety and how it will help other organizations facing a similar challenge.

What advancements can we look forward to in the evolution of Global Patient Safety Alerts?

We did an evaluation last year that will inform the next phase of the program. In a nutshell, we would like to further embed the program throughout the health system and grow the network of users and contributors. We have developed a communications and marketing plan and will be reaching out to health organizations, patient safety organizations, quality teams and others to increase both the awareness and use of Global Patient Safety Alerts. Together with our web team, we will improve some of the analytical and technological aspects of the database. Stay tuned!

To grow GPSA internationally and globally, we are also working with the WHO Collaborating Centre for Human Factors in Patient Safety based in Florence, Italy, to integrate the alerts, recommendations, advisories and information from Global Patient Safety Alerts into their Global Knowledge Sharing Platform.

How can we learn more about Global Patient Safety Alerts?

If you are interested in becoming a contributor, visit our website, watch the infographic video and/or reach out to me and I can walk you through the process. Contributing is quite easy and we work with each organization on how they can start or continue to contribute. More information is available on our website; or contact me by email at, or call 780.616.5320.