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CPSI Share                                                  
5/7/2019 6:00 PM

Chris PowerIn September 2017, Patients for Patient Safety Canada members set an objective to increase the public and elected official awareness about patient safety and patients as partners. CPSI contracted an IPSOS Public Affairs survey to discover Canadians' understanding of patient safety, as well as how they prioritize the issue.

We also asked for their experience with patient safety incidents (PSIs), which we defined as preventable harm to patients resulting in prolonged healthcare, disability or death. We discovered that one in three Canadians have either personally experienced a PSI or have a loved one who did.

However, as for patient safety, only three in ten Canadians say they know it very well or a fair amount. Five percent say they've never heard of it. When we asked Canadians to rank healthcare issues, only one third of Canadians rank patient safety in their top three priorities, with fewer than one in ten ranking it first.

The next section of the survey was telling: we asked about knowledge about the actual impact of patient safety on Canadians.

We know that patient safety incidents are the third leading cause of death in Canada – but only one in ten knew that. Only one in ten thought that patient mortality from PSIs was anywhere close to the reality of once every 13 minutes. Finally, the 2.75-billion-dollar cost of PSIs per year was higher than expected for 60 per cent of respondents, while one in three say it was much higher.

After we shared this information, we asked if that knowledge changed our respondents' healthcare priorities. After they received the facts about PSIs, there was a very significant change. Suddenly, three quarters of Canadians ranked patient safety in their top three priorities and one quarter named it the number one issue in healthcare. Three quarters were concerned about experiencing a patient safety incident, for themselves or a loved one.

So, in conclusion, we know that overall awareness of patient safety and patient safety incidents is low. Even among the one third who have experienced a PSI, few Canadians are aware of the significance of the issue or how much it costs us – both financially and in human lives. However, when they are presented with the facts, Canadians overwhelmingly place a higher priority on patient safety.

Increasing awareness of patient safety is key, not only the toll PSIs take both in terms of increased costs and lives lost, but how Canadians can stay safe. Canadians are not aware how serious of an issue patient safety is, and education is needed to close the gap.

Together, and armed with this information, we can make a difference. You can read more about the report here, including conclusions from the report and next steps, as well as read the full report in detail. You can watch the Patients for Patient Safety Canada webinar on the subject here.

I invite you to share your thoughts about the report online. Please use the hashtag #PatientSafetyRightNow in any social media you share. If you have a story about preventable patient harm, please share it with your audiences through social media – and use the hashtag.

Questions? Comments? My inbox is open to you anytime at, and you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisPowerCPSI.

Yours in patient safety,

Chris Power