Engaging Patients in Reducing Preventable Harm

At Pacific Medical Law all of our clients have concerns about the health care they have received. Often they have tried to be active participants in their care by asking questions and reporting concerns about their care, but those concerns are not always heard. Engaging Patients in Patient Safety – a Canadian Guide recognizes that patients often see solutions to problems but are not always asked for their ideas. The Guide was developed by the Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI) in partnership with Patients for Patient Safety Canada (PFPSC) with a goal of encouraging collaboration among patients, families, healthcare providers, managers and leaders to identify risks, support those involved in an incident and find ways to prevent similar incidents in the future.

The Guide describes ways that patients can be involved in preventing incidents in health care and what patients and families can do if a family member has experienced unanticipated harm. For example it suggests:

For your safety and the safety of others:

  • Get informed, educate yourself, and ask questions.
  • Actively participate in your own care and treatment.
  • Share information, concerns, and suggestions.
  • Work closely with your care providers, especially during care transitions.
  • Learn how to reduce infection risks while at home and in the community.

If you or your family member has experienced unanticipated harm:

  • Speak up and ask questions about what happened, why, and what will be done about it.
  • Seek out the proper way to report the incident.
  • Expect an apology and to be informed about next steps.
  • Ask for practical or emotional support to cope with the incident.
  • Find out where else you can find support if you feel you are not getting the answers you need (e.g., patient complaints or ombudsman office).
  • Share ideas, concerns, and suggestions to improve the incident management process.

The Guide emphasizes the importance of patients and caregivers working together collaboratively and proactively to shape safe, high-quality care delivery, co-design safer care systems, and continuously improve to keep patients safe.

You can read more about the initiative here:


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