Rates of Medical Error in Canada increasing along with lack of public knowledge

Tony Blackwell, Health correspondent for the National Post, reports on the secret world of medical error.

In reality, no one knows exactly how prevalent medical error is in Canada. The best approximation comes from a widely accepted 2004 study spearheaded by the University of Toronto’s Ross Baker and University of Calgary’s Peter Norton, now known simply as Baker-Norton.

The researchers examined patient charts at a representative sampling of 20 acute-care hospitals. They found that 7.5% of adult patients — which extrapolates to 185,000 a year countrywide — suffered a serious adverse event, almost 40% of which were preventable. Between 9,000 and 23,000 people die annually from preventable error, they concluded.

Eight years later, a similar study looked at pediatric patients, finding the rate at which children are hurt by adverse events was even higher, 9.2%. And, if anything, the numbers may have climbed since, says Hugh MacLeod, chief executive of the federally funded Canadian Patient Safety Institute.

“With the pace, the increase of new technology, new drugs, new approaches … the probability of risk and incident has grown,” he said.

Add psychiatric and obstetric patients, and residents of nursing homes and chronic-care hospitals — none of whom were covered by the two studies — and the true number of preventable deaths is likely in the realm of 35,000 annually. That’s four every hour, says Dr. Robson.

Four provinces — Alberta, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island — release no data on adverse events at all.

The complete article by Tony Blackwell can be found here:  http://news.nationalpost.com/2015/01/16/inside-canadas-secret-world-of-medical-errors-there-is-a-lot-of-lying-theres-a-lot-of-cover-up/