New data was released today from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) about unintended harm during hospitalizations in Canada. With healthcare systems across the country facing ongoing strain, it is more important than ever to focus on the safety of people receiving healthcare and those who care for them.
According to CIHI, during 1 in 17 hospital stays, people experienced unintended harm that known, evidence-informed practices could help to prevent. The rate of hospital harm increased to 6 per 100 hospitalizations in 2021-22 (a second year of increase) compared with a pre-pandemic rate of 5.4 per 100 hospitalizations in 2019-20 – a rate that had been stable since it was first reported in 2014.
We know everyone wants – and deserves – high-quality and safe care. We also recognize that even before the pandemic that was not a reality for everyone in Canada. While most people in Canada receive safe care, COVID-19 exposed some stark gaps in the safety of care recipients and healthcare workers.
There are evidence-informed solutions and actions that can be taken to improve safety. Let’s take this opportunity to ask, listen and act to help reduce risk and deliver safer care. Safety conversations are an important step in building a positive safety culture through respectful discussions about safety between two or more people involved in organizing, delivering, seeking and/or receiving care.
Together, we need to create spaces that invite safety conversations to improve care and drive positive change. Healthcare providers, managers and leaders need to be able to talk honestly about the factors that influence their ability to deliver safe care and be empowered to improve safety. At the same time, it needs to feel comfortable for those receiving care – whether in a hospital, a long-term care home or other setting – and those who support them, including family and other caregivers, to speak up about their care and what they need to feel safe.
Next week is Canadian Patient Safety Week. This year’s theme, “Press Play on Safety Conversations,” reinforces the ongoing need to have constructive safety discussions and to act on them. Healthcare Excellence Canada is reaching out to both care recipients and providers to provide helpful, evidence-informed resources and opportunities to start, refine or strengthen safety conversations. These resources are available at SafetyConversations.ca.