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Canadians Move on Patient Adverse Event Disclosure -- Mull Apology

Canadians Move on Patient Adverse Event Disclosure -- Mull Apology

March 23, 2008

Canada's Globe and Mail reports this week on the Canadian Patient Safety Institute’s new guidelines for disclosing medical errors to patients -- click here. The guidelines encourage health-care workers to break news to patients within a day or two of discovering an adverse event. There's controversy over whether or how caregivers should apologize.

These twin issues of mandatory disclosure and apology are priorities for HCFA's Consumer Health Quality Council. When things go wrong in care, patients deserve honest and humanely-communicated information. The public has a role to play in encouraging hospitals to open these lines of communication. Legislation now pending in our Legislature's Health Care Financing Committee would help clear the way to ensure patients are told the whole truth about their care.

In line with the theme, "it can happen to ANYONE", the Globe and Mail reports that “one in 13 adult medical and surgical patients admitted to acute-care hospitals [in Canada] suffered at least one adverse event.” Hard to compare to studies of US rates, but this suggests things may be just slightly better in Canada.
James Madden,Consumer Health Quality Organizer