Measuring Patient Harm in Canadian Hospitals

Posted on December 15, 2016

By: Irene Wasilewski, Application Consultant

Despite health professionals’ focus on safety, a small proportion of patients experience some type of unintended harm as a result of the care they receive. The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) in conjunction with the Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI) recently released a report using 2014/2015 data to measure patient harm in Canadian hospitals. This report provides an overview of the status of these patient safety events in Canada (outside of Quebec) and identifies how the data and associated improvement resources can be used for improvement.

Regrettably, 138,000 — or one in every 18 — patients admitted to a Canadian hospital in 2014-15 suffered some kind of harmful event that could potentially have been prevented, from getting the wrong drug to developing an infection. The one-in-18 ratio represents almost six per cent of the 2.5 million patients admitted each year to both large and small hospitals across the country, excluding Quebec. Of the patients who experienced harm, about 20% experienced more than 1 harmful event while in hospital.

What can be done to reduce harm in Canadian hospitals? One approach is to reduce errors in the pharmacy. Humans inevitably introduce error, no matter how consciously they perform all their duties and how much they prioritize patient safety in their everyday responsibilities. Automation can help since it never gets tired, never gets bored from repetitive tasks nor gets distracted. It can remove the monotonous jobs from a pharmacist’s day so that they may focus on clinical care that is tailored to each patient’s needs. It has been proven that increased participation from the pharmacist in the clinical role can reduce a patient’s hospital stay. In the meantime, the patient would also likely be receiving drugs properly prepared using automation as a tool.

To view the summary report, please visit:

To view the full report, please visit:

To view the technical report, please visit:

Irene Wasilewski is an application consultant for Winnipeg, Manitoba and Buffalo Grove, Illinois-based ARxIUM, an industry-leading developer of pharmacy automation and workflow solutions.

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