Health care turns deadly

CORNWALL The prognosis is not good for the Canadian health system according to William Charney and Michael Hurley who brought their message to Cornwall Thursday

As many as 63000 Canadians will die from a medical error or hospitalacquired infection this year making it the second leading cause of death they say

They say research shows 18 of Canadians entering a hospital or medical facility leave with a disease or condition acquired at the hospital that impairs their life and doctors and policymakers are not looking in the right areas to solve the problems

Charney who edited the recentlyreleased book Epidemic of Medical Errors and HospitalAcquired Infections said there is a certain amount of recognition on this issue but systemic problems arent being addressed

Several would require increased funding something not seen in this years provincial budget

Charney said the Canadian system of factory medicine places the emphasis on speed and efficiency number of surgeries per day and patients per doctor rather than on promoting health

If you are going to speed up the system and downsize the hospitals you are going to have a disaster Charney said

This along with high patientstaff ratios long shifts leading to fatigue and stressful working conditions mean the chance for error is great he added

Charney is the former director of environmental health at the Department of Public Health in San Francisco

Hurley is the president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions

A lack of accountability reporting and instances of bullying also means many hospitals arent taking responsibility for errors Charney said and many patients arent reporting them

The Ministry of Health requires reporting on nine patient safety indicators as of 2010 including C difficile and hand hygiene compliance

The ministry has also targeted hospital quality by asking each facility to set a quality improvement plan each year

The Cornwall Community Hospital is looking at patient safety this year including reducing C difficile infections central line blood stream infections and new pressure ulcers among other acquiredinfections

Technology such as electronic records and new testing machines are both a solution and part of the problem Charney said training is often not thorough enough for doctors and nurses to fully understand the equipment they use

Cleaning is one of the problems with many corners in a hospital to be cleaned and healthcare workers in contact with many diseases each day

Cleanliness has been a particular focus of the Ministry of Health with the Just Clean Your Hands program promoted at facilities across the province

The most important measure in any facility is hand hygiene said Dr Doug Sider medical director for communicable diseases with Public Health Ontario

Nurses doctors and cleaning staff have been trained said Dr Sider and audits are meant to be done to ensure proper cleaning is taking place

We are always monitoring the literature what science is showing us Dr Sider said One of the things we are constantly looking at is are there new better more costeffective measures to keep a hospital clean

Regional Infection Control Networks have been established throughout the province to ensure training is being done and to share best practices that an Infectious Disease Advisory Committee helps develop

I think we all recognize how frequent hospitalacquired infections are We expect when we go into hospitals that that is for the purpose of treatment and cure and that we dont do harm in terms of giving someone an acquired infection Dr Sider said

Charney said errors and acquiredinfections cost the medical system as much as 6 billion a year This gives you some idea of the cost of errors and how everyone is kicking the cost down the road he said But if we prevent the errors we would have plenty of money to do the prevention

We want our government to take responsibility where these issues are discussed in a scientific way said Hurley


3 million hospital admissions each year in Canada

18 of patients experience an adverse event as a result of their healthcare management

60000 Canadians are estimated to have died from these adverse effects in 200910

25 of hospital cleaning has been cut since 1999

16 hospital beds for acute care per 1000 Canadians which places us 26th in beds per population amongst FirstWorld countries

data provided by the Conference on the Epidemic of Medical Errors and HospitalAcquired Infections in the US and Canada which takes place June 4 in Toronto

Date : 11 May, 2012
Reference :

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