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Medical harm occurs 1 in every 18 hospital stays: report
One in 18 patients experienced a potentially preventable injury while in hospital.
That's according to a new report released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information.
The report is shedding light on the mistakes that are made, and what can be done to fix them.
The small scar on Kelly Kliewer's wrist pales in comparison to the emotional wounds she endured after a medical mistake.
"The nurse came to get me and she said ‘it's your lucky day,’” said Kliewer. “She said ‘the patient before you didn't show up’ and it wasn't my lucky day."
Twelve years later, Kliewer still sees a psychologist for post-traumatic stress disorder.
She underwent carpal tunnel surgery in 2004 at St. Boniface Hospital where she was given the wrong drug during the operation.
“The anesthesiologist made a medical error,” said Kliewer. “Gave me a paralytic instead of an anesthetic on the operating table. I stopped breathing, it paralyzed all my organs, went into respiratory distress and had to get put on a ventilator.”
One in 18 patients suffered a potentially preventable injury in a Canadian hospital between 2014 and 2015. Of those, one in five patients experienced more than one harmful event during their stay in hospital.
37 per cent of harmful events involved health care, such as bed sores or getting the wrong medication. 37 per cent involved infections, 23 per cent were procedure-related like bleeding after surgery and three per cent involved patient accidents such as falls.
The report found one in eight harmful events ended in death, although a direct link can't be determined.
"We can't say if the death was a result of harm or the death was a result of something else,” said Tracy Johnson, CIHI’s Director of Health System Analysis and Emerging Issues. “Some of those patients may have been more complex."
The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said it's already started improving on many of the issues identified in the report.
"I think this is positive and I think it's a measure that hopefully can be further refined to gauge our success across the country in improving patient safety," said WRHA Clinical Services and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brock Wright.
"What I would say to patients and their families is that yes, there always is a risk but the risk of not getting the medical treatment you require is far greater, in my view, than the small risks associated with a stay in hospital."
Kliewer's advice: be your own advocate and ask as many as questions of health care professionals as you can.
She hopes fewer people will have to go through what she did.