medical-errorsAccording to the Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI), 30,000 patients die in Canadian hospitals and medical facilities each year as a result of preventable medical errors. In an effort to reduce that staggering number, the CPSI launched SHIFT to Safety, a new online resource designed to reduce patient injuries in Canada, on July 20 at the Ottawa Hospital.

While the CPSI has worked for more than a decade to improve patient safety in Canada, their focus has been on correcting issues in healthcare delivery. With SHIFT to Safety, the group has redirected their efforts “at all facets of the healthcare system,” said CEO Chris Power in a release.

“Improving patient care safety and quality in Canada requires everyone’s involvement,” added Mr. Power. “SHIFT to Safety is empowering people with the tools and information they need to keep patients safe, whether you are a member of the public, a provider, or a leader. This is just the beginning. What we have online now is just a fraction of what we’ll be releasing in the months and years to come.”

SHIFT to Safety provides a national, publicly available database of important information and advice aimed at helping patients successfully navigate the healthcare system and advocate for safe practices. The CPSI hopes their initiative will encourage patients and patients’ families to ask challenging questions of their doctors and request information on diagnoses and treatment and medication options.

“As a physician, I understand the importance of patients, clinicians, and administrators working together for the best patient health outcomes,” said Federal Minister of Health Jane Philpott, in the CPSI release. “The key benefit of SHIFT to Safety is that it gives all those involved immediate access to resources that facilitate communication and teamwork to ensure safe and high quality patient care.”

Besides offering information and guidance to patients, SHIFT to Safety is intended to help all participants in the healthcare system take a proactive approach to avoiding medical errors and patient injuries. The program aims to answer important question such as “How do I prevent harm,” How can I respond when harm happens,” and “How can I learn from harm that’s already happened?”

“It’s refreshing to see the public being given a greater voice in their own health care,” commented Barb Farlow of Patients for Patient Safety Canada. “We want to be active participants in our health care and these tools and resources now available through SHIFT to Safety will go a long way towards helping us realize that.”

SHIFT to Safety is a positive step towards curbing medical errors in the Canadian healthcare system, but a great deal of work remains. Though not all instances of medical malpractice can be avoided, improved patient involvement and increased transparency from medical professionals are both vital to building trust and ultimately reducing injuries.

If you or a member of your family has suffered a serious injury as a result of medical errors, contact the Medical Malpractice Group at Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today for a free, no-obligation consultation. They can help you understand your legal position and advise you of your next steps.


Greg Neinstein