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Leader; Provider; Public

Awareness of the Patient Safety Crisis in Canada

THE ISSUES:

  1. We are facing a patient harm crisis of epidemic proportions.
  2. The Canadian public knows almost nothing about it.
  3. As soon as they learn, the public urgently prioritizes safer healthcare.
Canadians should have an expectation that their healthcare is safe, and in most cases it is.

However, every resident of Canada must learn that there are risks in our healthcare system, despite the efforts of thousands of dedicated healthcare providers across Canada.

In our healthcare system, there is a death from patient harm every 13 minutes and 14 seconds. It is the third leading cause of death in Canada. One out of 18 hospital visits results in preventable harm. These incidents generate an additional $2.75 billion in healthcare treatment costs every year.

This level of harm is simply unacceptable.


THE SURVEY:


In 2018, the Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI) commissioned Ipsos Public Affairs to survey Canadians about their awareness of the rates of patient harm in our healthcare system. We sought a baseline read of Canadians' understanding of patient safety, with the main objectives of:

Assessing knowledge of patient safety and patient safety incidents in Canada;

Understanding how Canadians prioritize patient safety;

Determining how Canadians would like to receive information about patient safety, if at all; and,

Assessing experience with patient safety incidents.

Ipsos Public Affairs surveyed 1003 Canadian adults, weighted by gender, age, region and income. The credibility interval was +/- 3.5%. Ipsos found that while 44% of respondents identified as caregivers at some point in their lives, 30% stated they had a chronic disease or illness themselves. Out of the 199 respondents who identified as parents, 13% said that they have a child with a chronic illness.

KEY FINDINGS:

Canadians show limited knowledge of patient harm.

  • One third of Canadians rank patient safety in their top three healthcare priorities, with just under one in ten ranking it first.
  • About one in ten correctly say that patient safety incidents are the third leading cause of death in Canada.
  • Only one in ten Canadians believe that someone dies from a patient safety incident every 15 minutes in Canada.
  • Six in ten say the $2.75 billion cost of patient safety incidents in Canada is higher than they expected.

Despite the limited knowledge of the patient safety crisis in Canada, one in three Canadians has experienced a patient safety incident.

  • One in three Canadians stated that they either personally experienced a patient safety incident (12%) or have a loved one who did (24%).
  • Misdiagnosis, falls, infections and mistakes during treatment are the most common types of patient safety incidents. Those who have experienced a patient safety incident most commonly cite distracted or overworked health care providers as the largest contributing factors that led to the incident.

Once informed about the scale of the problem, Canadians demonstrated far more concern about patient harm and wanted more information.

  • Three‐quarters of Canadians are concerned about experiencing a patient safety incident, ranking it in their top three (compared to originally 1 in 3), including 1 in 4 ranking patient safety incidents as their top priority.
  • Three in four Canadians are interested in learning how to keep safe in healthcare,
  • Eighty per cent say they'd like to receive this information delivered via (in order of preference) healthcare provider; print, digital and in-person.
  • This knowledge should be provided in real time (when patients go to the hospital for surgery and upon a new diagnosis of a serious health problem), but some also believe it should be general knowledge.

CONCLUSIONS:

  1. We are facing a patient harm crisis of epidemic proportions.
  2. The Canadian public knows almost nothing about it.
  3. As soon as they learn, the public urgently prioritizes safer healthcare. 
Canadians should have an expectation that their healthcare is safe, and in most cases it is. Every resident of Canada must learn that there are risks in our healthcare system, despite the efforts of thousands of dedicated healthcare providers across Canada.

Healthcare providers, healthcare systems, and the Canadian Patient Safety Institute must empower residents of Canada with information and tools to ask good questions, connect with the right people, and learn as much as they can to keep them or a family member safe while receiving healthcare.

Patient experience in the healthcare system should be characterized by clear, honest, two-way communication.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Ask us about patient experiences of harm in Canada's healthcare system. We invite you to read some of the stories shared by members of Patients for Patient Safety Canada, and the changes they have championed in our healthcare system to keep patients safer.

Ask us what you can do to keep yourself and your loved ones safe in the healthcare system. The Canadian Patient Safety Institute designs and collects resources designed to help patients navigate the healthcare system by asking questions and being informed.

Share what you have learned. We have discovered that, as soon as we learn about the scale of the public healthcare crisis, we become far more concerned. Post your experiences on social media and use the hashtag #PatientSafetyRightNow – with your help, we will inform anyone who uses our healthcare system about the crisis and teach them how to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.

ABOUT US:

The Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI) is the only national organization solely dedicated to reducing preventable harm, improving the safety of the healthcare system, and engaging patients and families as partners in safe care.

Patients for Patient Safety Canada (PFPSC) is the patient-led program of CPSI and the Canadian arm of the World Health Organization's PFPS program. As patient partners, these volunteer members harmed by healthcare contribute to patient safety improvements at all system levels.

CPSI and PFPSC are committed to working together with the public, patients, healthcare providers, and healthcare leaders to make Canadian healthcare safer.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: