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Canadians who experience medical harm at the hands of the health-care system they pay for are often chagrined to learn that, if they pursue their legal remedies in court, they are also footing the bill to defend the very physicians they claim have harmed them. Now it seems that Canadian taxpayers have been victimized by this system, too.
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A recent Canadian study for all provinces except Quebec reported that one in 18 hospitalized patients experienced avoidable medical errors in 2014 - 2015. In the U.S., it is estimated that 15 million...
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Health-care cultures that will not acknowledge or admit to medical errors, and therefore fail to learn from them, or permit expressions of resentment and disrespect by care teams (and administrators) to patients and families seeking information are the very antithesis of what patients need and what a caring society should accept.
What if I told you that almost one third of medical care in Canada is unnecessary and that over testing and treatment is on the rise? Doctors across the country are taking note and sounding the alarm on potential risks.
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You expect that casinos are going to be slanted in favour of the house. But you don't imagine those kind of odds when it comes to complaints about hospitals and health-care providers that may have caused avoidable medical or emotional harm.
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While our hospitals save lives every day, they are also the third leading cause of avoidable death every year. In Canada, medical errors and hospital-acquired infections claim between 30,000 and 60,000 lives annually. Thousands more are injured. But to the public, these incidents are largely invisible.
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The sense of disrespect many encounter in their efforts to protect a hospitalized loved one is often compounded by the emotional trauma that comes later with a feeling of abandonment in a sea of unanswered questions.
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A recent report from one of the most respected medical authorities in the world, is yet another jolting reminder that reducing harm to patients and families remains one of the foremost challenges facing our healthcare systems.
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My experience is that patients and families who have been harmed by medical errors in the hospital setting have a lot to offer about what needs to be done to make the system safer. Many are especially articulate about the emotional harm their experience caused.
In Canada, it's not clear to what extent inpatient suicides, or unsuccessful attempts that lead to disability, are considered "never events" by healthcare decision makers, or who is keeping track of them for that matter. The fact is there is a wall of secrecy that surrounds hospital suicide and attempts at self-harm in Canada.
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A new Canadian study shows that age is a critical factor in the kind of treatment patients receive. According to the research, which involved patients with traumatic spinal cord injuries, "patients over 70 years of age experienced considerable delays between admission and surgery."
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Visit any major city in North America and you will quickly discover the link between cash and name recognition in healthcare. Some rich person gives a few million to an urban hospital and their name goes up on a wing. Recently, a generous $3 million donation to Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital was celebrated in a full-page advertisement in Canada's national newspape
the Canadian Medical Protective Association says it is "valued as an essential component of the Canadian healthcare system." But for patients who have experienced injury at the hands of a doctor, this organization looks more like the Darth Vader of the medico-legal system.
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In the U.S., the Center for Patient Protection recently reviewed the data top hospital rating organizations provide about hospital safety performance. They cover the smallest community hospitals right up to the biggest teaching facilities, in a format where access to the information is quick and user-friendly. You won't find similar information anywhere in Canada.
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A government agency in Ontario has called for nursing homes in that province to re-evaluate their use of antipsychotic medications like quetiapine (marketed under the brand name Seroquel). What is missing from these studies and investigations, however, is what is happening with these drugs in hospitals. I learned about Seroquel, like so many patients and families have, the hard way.
As consumers, we've long insisted on having access to information about the products we buy -- whether they're automobiles or coffee makers. The same transparency pressures are now overtaking the healthcare sector. Except in Canada.
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When patients cannot be fully engaged with their care and the decisions being made, that responsibility becomes the family's. There is no more precious gift you can give your mom or dad than the gift of hospital safety. My mother's doctors repeatedly warned that her demise was imminent. Without a vigilant family, it would have been.
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Contrary to the insinuation that the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario is out to protect doctors and keep the public in the dark, they are, in actual fact, out to protect the interests of the public first and foremost. Is the general public, with their lack of medical training and limited knowledge of how the health profession works, really in a position to sift through and understand medical information better than the trained doctors and highly-skilled and trained health professionals who have been appointed to investigate these matters?
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Patient Protection Canada has heard from families across the country and beyond about their horrible hospital experiences. Almost none ever received an apology. That cold, hard reality is backed up by my own experience involving the lengthy hospitalization of my elderly mother a few years ago. Despite raising a number of questions and concerns about these and other matters, and never even hinting at legal action, no apology was ever forthcoming from this major hospital.
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A shocking CBC/Canadian Press investigation has again confirmed how powerful anti-psychotic drugs are being abused. This time, the news is about quetiapine, marketed under the brand name Seroquel, being given to female inmates in Canadian prisons.
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Nobody takes on a hospital or embarks on a campaign for safer care without good reason. There are a whole range of institutions and resources that are stacked against you, from big law firms to hospital patient relations departments which are there mainly to do management's bidding. Don't even think about trying to get anywhere with a hospital's board of directors. There seems to be some unwritten rule in Canada that no matter how urgent or justified the matter, a hospital board will never respond to the pleas of a family seeking answers.
Three years ago, on a crisp November morning, my mother fell down a long flight of stairs in her home. I didn't know at the time that her life, and mine, were also about to descend into a dark and often agonizing journey through Canada's healthcare system. By the time this second hospital was through with my mother, her demise was said to be "imminent."
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There is a medical emergency rolling across the land and into its hospital rooms. It is the epidemic of hospital medical errors that is literally killing thousands of patients each year. There are numerous reasons that have been put forth as to why there continue to be so many medical errors. Perhaps what is required is not a no-fault culture, but one where it actually becomes unlawful not to report medical errors.
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