Friday, July 20, 2007

How about a Safety Commissioner?

Here's my thought for the day. In Canada and in other jurisdictions we have had great success in driving a health information privacy agenda with the enactment of privacy legislation and the appointment of Privacy Commissioners to receive complaints from the public and to oversee legislative compliance.

Perhaps we should do the same with patient safety.

Discipline and oversight of such matters is currently left with professional colleges for actions by health professionals as individuals, but I don't think anything exists to monitor and respond to incidents that have systemic causes, or are perpetrated by organizations.

With somewhere between 7000 and 23,000 Canadians dying each year due to medical error, and knowing that there are real risks associated with the systems we are implementing, the time is right for patient safety legislation and the appointment of a Safety Commissioner.

Like the more progressive Privacy Commissioners in this country, the Safety Commissioner's role would be one of leadership, promoting patient safety, objectively investigating safety incidents, and ordering changes to individual and systemic clinical and business practices and behaviors to improve safety for patients.

Its something worth considering.

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