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CPSI Share                                                  
10/6/2013 6:00 PM

​​​​Promoting the theme of Connections, Culture and Communication, the 2013 Atlantic Health Quality and Patient Safety Learning Exchange (ALE 2013) brought together over 200 healthcare professionals from Atlantic Canada to learn from experts and one another. ALE 2013, an initiative of the Atlantic Health Quality and Patient Safety Collaborative (AHQPSC) in partnership with the Canadian Patient Safety Institute, was hosted by the Province of New Brunswick and held in Moncton on May 14 and 15, 2013.

The conference focused on changing culture in organizations, improving communication, and helping people connect with sharing and learning. Dr. Brian Goldman, an emergency physician provided the keynote address, Mea Culpa. Relaying a personal experience that resulted in a medical mistake, Dr. Goldman highlighted how “connections, culture and communication” are the foundation to advancing patient safety. Hugh MacLeod, CEO, Canadian Patient Safety Institute highlighted the way care is delivered and perceptions of good care to challenge old ways and promote new approaches to safer care.

Panel discussions focused on leadership being everyone’s responsibility with discussions on citizen engagement to enhance quality and patient safety accountability; reducing falls and injuries from falls through a patient safety culture; and learning and optimism in time of challenge.

Kevin McNamara, Deputy Minister, Nova Scotia Health and Wellness reinforced that it takes courage to do the right thing in terms of patient safety and quality. “People want to do the right thing and it is giving people the information to make the right decisions and the support to make unpopular ones that makes the difference,” says Kevin McNamara. “Leadership is making sure that quality is at the forefront and something that we value in looking after our patients in the best way we can. It consists of developing the capacity for learning and ensuring continuous improvement.”

One key aspect of the ALE was the opportunity to learn about innovative initiatives underway in Atlantic Canada, through short and snappy six minute presentations. Over the two days, there were 28 rapid fire presentations on improving quality and patient safety.  Not only did participants learn what was happening in their own backyard, the format provided the opportunity reach out to one another and network with the presenters. 

Patient stories provided poignant and thought-provoking examples that set the tone for each day.  Natalie Pece, Raeline McGrath and Tanya Barnett shared their powerful stories and reinforced the importance of involving patients and families in finding new and creative ways to make healthcare safer.

With a chronic health condition, Natalie Pece is considered a “frequent user” in the healthcare system.  She says that both healthcare providers and patients are working toward the same goal and stressed the importance of getting to know the patient and their history, taking the extra time to read their medical file before drawing conclusions, and considering things that the family might need.  “To improve the quality of care, it is the little things that mean so much,” says Natalie Pece. “Everyone is different and you have to make an effort to ensure you explain things so that they understand.”

Mariette Duke, Health Care Consultant, New Brunswick Department of Health was part of the organizing committee for the 2013 Atlantic Learning Exchange.  “The two days conference provided New Brunswick a unique opportunity to host a collaborative event supported by experts in the quality and patient safety field,” says Mariette Duke. “Having a group such as this in one place, offered an incredible opportunity to discuss best practices, innovations, and to work in collaboration to develop future initiatives, which included the need for a patient safety culture. The Atlantic Learning Exchange was a great success and all the participants left with new ideas, best practices and a renewed enthusiasm to enhance the culture of patient safety.”

Visit  or click here to download presentations from the 2013 Atlantic Learning Exchange.  The biennial Atlantic Learning Exchange will be hosted by the province of Nova Scotia in 2015.