Prioritizing Patient Safety

Line of business: Making Patient Safety a Priority

Patient harm is the third leading cause of death in Canada, yet there is little talk about it. Increasing awareness of patient safety is key, not only the toll that patient safety incidents take, both in terms of increased costs and lives lost, but how Canadians can stay safe. A strong advocacy platform will help to ignite greater social concern about patient safety. A bold and proactive approach, using the patient voice in reporting, public engagement campaigns and social media will help to make patient safety a higher priority across the healthcare system.

The Canadian Patient Safety Institute will increase the profile of patient safety so that greater awareness leads to behaviour changes among the public and patients, providers and leaders.

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Canadian Patient Safety Week

6.86 million Twitter impressions (2,064 tweets from 833 participants)

500,000 Facebook impressions reaching over 353,000 people

1,413 digital communications packages downloaded

2,026 downloads of the 5 Questions to Ask About Your Medications

4,889 Medication Safety Quizzes completed: Public 2,355 times/Providers 2,534 times

3,150 downloads of free digital resources

57% increase in CPSW website visits (36,504 unique page views)

405 medication safety webinar attendees - Not All Meds Get Along

600 sites attended Virtual screening of Greg’s Story and Twitter Talk (2-10 people per site)

184 entries and 1,100 webpage visits for the Caption This Comic medication safety challenge

5,017 downloads of the PATIENT podcast / one of the top 10 medical podcasts on iTunes during CPSW week

1,462 participants - the most in the campaign’s 14-year history

STOP! Clean Your Hands Day

710 campaign participants registered

2.11 million Twitter impressions (413 tweets/270 participants)

2,069 public and healthcare quizzes completed

157 webinar attendees

1,881 page views on STOP! Clean Your Hands Day

14,777 page views (7,541 events) of

661,408 impressions (1,856 clicks) garnered from Google Ads

208,898 impressions (790 clicks) garnered from Facebook Ads

at Parliament

13 patients meet with 32 MPs and Senators to increase awareness of patient safety

These outputs drive our outcomes and support our objectives.

See the By the Numbers section

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An evaluation of both Canadian Patient Safety Week and STOP! Clean Your Hands Day was undertaken to determine our effectiveness at building awareness and changing behaviour. The results of the evaluation will be used to shape the direction of the 2019-2020 campaigns.

Canadian Patient Safety Week (CPSW) aims to engage healthcare providers, the public, healthcare leaders, and governments in an exchange of ideas, strategies and best practices to help support behaviour change to advance patient safety. The 2018 CPSW theme focused on improving medication safety and the importance of medication reviews. The Canadian Patient Safety Institute aimed to motivate everyone who was on multiple medications or who had a family member or loved one who was on multiple medications to have their medications reviewed. Plus, to have pharmacists, doctors and other healthcare providers involved in prescribing and administering medications to review patient’s medications before prescribing or administering new medications, and, if appropriate, to de-prescribe medications that were no longer needed or which conflicted with each other.

The 5 Questions to Ask About Your Medications tool was promoted through CPSW to encourage medication safety and ultimately reduce medication errors. Marketing and social media campaigns were used to engage healthcare providers in ways that support behavioural change. Through quizzes, a contest, podcast and webinar, we gave the participants a voice in the fun and engaging campaign. For a full week we encouraged healthcare providers, leaders, and the public to show support on social media for patient safety across Canada and to share what they were doing for CPSW using the hashtag #AskListenTalk.

Now in its 14th year, Canadian Patient Safety Week 2018 took place from October 29 to November 2.

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PATIENT Podcast Series: The second season of the PATIENT podcast series focused on medication safety and the dangers of multiple medications. Through narrative storytelling we create an emotional connection to people who have been harmed in healthcare. This helps members of the public and healthcare providers and leaders become invested in improving patient safety. In October 2018, we released one story through three episodes, bringing in the perspective of medication safety activists, healthcare professionals and pharmacists.

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Stop! Clean Your Hands Day: Held annually, STOP! Clean Your Hands Day is a campaign where the public, healthcare providers and leaders show support for infection control/hand hygiene best practices through participation in different events and activities and access tools and resources for use in their workplaces or homes. In 2018-2019, we expanded the campaign to make it more relevant to the public, healthcare providers and leaders by creating messaging, resources and activities specifically for each audience. As a result, we had more campaign registrations and participation than in any previous year.

The public, healthcare providers and leaders were encouraged to participate in our social media campaign #STOPCleanYourHandsDay to show their support and help increase awareness for hand hygiene best practices across Canada.

Stop Clean Your Hands Day
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Government Relations

The Canadian Patient Safety Institute’s Government Relations enables patients and policy experts to connect with elected officials and policy makers in government – with the goal of promoting policy change. The program supports both our engagement work and our policy impact commitment by raising awareness and promoting key policy objectives.

The Government Relations program actively supports several key policy objectives including the inclusion of patient safety policies in the National Pharmacare Plan, improvements to medication safety in Health Canada’s Self-Care Framework (plan language labelling) and working with provincial/territorial governments to implement the Protecting Canadians from Unsafe Drugs Act. Policy change can take time – however our contributions, supported by the government relations program, are resulting in small but important policy changes.

In 2018-2019, Canadian Patient Safety Institute CEO Chris Power met with the Ministers of Health in Alberta and British Columbia, and six Deputy Ministers of Health, including Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Saskatchewan. These meetings provided the opportunity to learn more about the policy challenges facing each jurisdiction, influence the safety agenda, and to align our work with the provinces and territories.

Patients at Parliament: On October 30, 2018, 13 patients from across Canada travelled to Ottawa to participate in Patients at Parliament, a unique campaign to raise awareness with parliamentarians. Five teams of volunteers and staff met with 32 Members of Parliament (MPs) and Senators in 10 buildings across the parliamentary precinct over the course of eight hours. Participants spoke about their personal experience with harm and delivered key messages from the CPSW campaign. Many MPs and Senators have committed to promote these key messages at committee meetings and within their local ridings. The MPs and Senators also demonstrated support for CPSW by tweeting messages during the campaign.

Patients for Patient Safety Canada members also met with MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes, who spoke about the importance of raising your voice and being heard by Members of Parliament. The meeting provided an opportunity to learn more about engagement strategies and the value of engaging elected officials.

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Patients for Patient Safety Canada Government Relations Committee: This Committee was formed to connect with government officials at the national, provincial and local levels. Eight members of the Canadian Patient Safety Institute’s patient-led program, Patients for Patient Safety Canada sit on the Committee and are supported by two staff members from the Canadian Patient Safety Institute. The outreach to federal parliamentarians will continue and efforts will expand to include provincial elected officials. The Committee is looking to hold round table discussions to raise awareness of patient safety across the country.

A recently developed draft guide serves as a template for patient engagement with governments. The guide is currently being reviewed by Patients for Patient Safety Canada members and is expected to be available by mid-2019.

The Government Relations Committee and the Patients for Patient Safety Canada Communications Committee are working together to help implement the Canadian Patient Safety Institute’s public awareness campaign in the Fall of 2019.

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IPSOS Survey

In 2018, the Canadian Patient Safety Institute contracted an IPSOS Public Affairs survey to determine Canadians’ understanding of patient safety and how they prioritize the issue. Respondents were asked for their experience with patient safety incidents (PSIs), which we defined as preventable harm to patients resulting in prolonged health care, disability or death. We discovered that Canadians show limited knowledge on patient safety. The survey report was released in April 2018; here are the results:

  • Only three in ten Canadians say they know about patient safety very well or a fair amount. Five per cent say they’ve never heard of it. When we asked Canadians to rank healthcare issues, only one-third of Canadians ranked patient safety in their top three priorities, with fewer than one in 10 ranking it the top priority.
  • Few respondents were able to correctly identify where PSIs rank in terms of causes of death in Canada, with nearly half ranking it outside of the top five and two in 10 saying they don’t know.
  • In terms of healthcare priorities, patient safety ranked near the bottom before any information on PSIs was provided. However, when presented with the facts on patient safety in Canada, including how many deaths are claimed by PSIs and the additional financial costs of PSIs each year, Canadians placed a much higher priority on addressing patient safety and in fact ranked it as the most pressing priority.
  • One in three Canadians has either personally experienced a PSI, or have a loved one that did. Caregivers and those with a chronic illness are significantly more likely to have experienced a PSI, both personally and having a family member who experienced one.
  • Misdiagnosis, falls, infections and mistakes during treatment are the most common type of PSIs. Those who have experienced a PSI most commonly cite distracted or overlooked healthcare providers as the biggest contributing factor that led to the incident.

The Canadian Patient Safety Institute will leverage what it has learned from the IPSOS survey through its Public Engagement strategy, which will work to make patient safety personally relevant to members of the public. The Canadian Patient Safety Institute and its patient-led program, Patients for Patient Safety Canada are using these results to initiate conversations about the state of patient safety and aim to strengthen commitment to reducing patient harm in Canada.

Public Engagement

The Canadian Patient Safety Institute will work to make patient safety a priority through public engagement. We will strengthen commitment by engaging the public in the high standard of care they deserve by distilling a wide spectrum of patient information into easy to understand and action-oriented methods that drive education and understanding of what the healthcare experience should be.

The Canadian Patient Safety Institute is working with its Patients for Patient Safety Canada program and other patient groups to develop a public engagement strategy. To strengthen commitment, we are also working with members of the public to make the issue of patient safety more personally relevant and incite intrinsic motivation and behaviours that improve patient safety. We will then use this attention to arm the public with patient safety tools and resources to keep them safe in the healthcare system. The strategy will also leverage learnings from other social marketing efforts, including provincial and Health Canada public health outreach and campaigns.

To strengthen commitment and effectively drive attitudinal and behavioural change, we need individuals to be aware of potential harms, recognize the nature of the problem, internalize the potential risks, and take specific steps to minimize the risk of harm.

Key initiatives will be rolled out in the Fall of 2019.

Media Relations: This program has several streams that support strengthening commitment to patient safety in Canada. The program equips Canadian Patient Safety Institute and Patients for Patient Safety Canada spokesperson(s) with the skills to respond to or initiate media requests, to effectively tell the patient safety story to the public. Daily scans of print, broadcast and online media are made for mentions of both the Canadian Patient Safety Institute and patient safety issues in order to understand current patient safety awareness in Canada. And, media releases about events, programs, and stories that inform the public about the nation’s patient safety crisis are issued. We also strengthen commitment by sharing information about the Canadian Patient Safety Institute’s programs.

In 2018-2019, the Canadian Patient Safety Institute was mentioned in 1,170 articles, generating 90 million impressions, including eight media releases that account for upwards of 20 million impressions, and helped to promote a national pharmacare event held in Halifax to local media.

Compelling patient stories are used to increase the profile of patient safety in the media, to reach both patients and the public, and to inform them about patient safety information in a consistent and credible manner.