Global site shares patient stories to cut medical risks
In an effort to reduce medical mishaps in patient care, the Canadian Patient Safety Institute has developed and launched a public Web site that makes available lessons learnt through patient care case studies from around the world.
The site, Global Patient Safety Alerts, will allow health-care practitioners to read patient stories to understand the context in which safety incidents occurred and to administer an appropriate treatment, explained Paul Beard, director of operations with the Edmonton, Alta.-based non-profit Canadian Patient Safety Institute.

The development of the site was preceded by a national consultation, during which health-care practitioners expressed the desire for barriers to be removed that inhibit learning from others’ successes and failures while recognizing that health-care resources are already at capacity, said Beard.

“In the end, we asked you. You talked. And we listened to what you told us,” said Beard during the unveiling in Edmonton on Tuesday.

The bilingual site is free for anyone to access and is searchable across an indexed repository of some 167 patient case studies. Beard anticipates another 700 stories will be added across the next four and a half months.

Sir Liam Donaldson, chair of the World Health Organization for patient safety, who joined the unveiling remotely from England, said various programs have been set up by the United Nations organization since 2004 with the goal of taking patient safety more seriously. But the success of a global initiative truly depends on how well health-care practitioners can harness learning lessons from the participating 193 countries, said Donaldson.

The challenge today, added Donaldson, is “most patient safety is taken care of at the parochial level.”

Describing the new site as an “unparalleled resource of experience and wisdom,” Donaldson expects the platform will let practitioners “connect” on patient safety as never done before.

But in order for the site to share case studies in a manner respectful to the patients whose stories are being divulged, identifying information is removed. The chief quality officer for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, Kaaren Neufeld, explained that the stories are packaged by a small editorial team assembled from internal staff, who modify the stories slightly to maintain patient privacy.

The editorial team also re-tells the stories, amassed from around the world, from a medical perspective beneficial to health-care practitioners, such as patient fatigue. “So that’s going to be a significant help,” said Neufeld.

Aggregating learning lessons on a single site offers health-care practitioners the valuable opportunity to examine clusters of case studies. “It’s going to allow us to cohort stories and allow a foundation for discussion,” said Neufeld.

Free training sessions for anyone interested are available in March and April.

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau

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