Company Perspective - Clinical Quality & Patient Safety

The safe delivery of healthcare in today’s landscape poses formidable concern and challenges in terms of an aging population, increasing acuity and co-morbidities, diminishing health care resources and ever changing treatment innovations and technology. At the forefront is the realization that a patient who enters the health care system may suffer untoward injury or further illness as a result of their care. Such events have caused temporary and permanent disability, extended hospital stay and in rare cases death. Many of these events are preventable. The patients treated and transported by EMS are not exempt from such events, and one may argue are faced with further perils as a result of care provided within an unpredictable and often uncontrollable environment. Medavie Health Services has recognized and embraced patient safety as a priority and is reflected as such within our corporate values and strategic planning.

The need for formal processes and frameworks has only recently arrived on the horizon of Canadian health care systems. Until recently one would have difficulty obtaining a consistent description of what patient safety actually means. The description would vary by profession, department and province and has rarely been acknowledged as a system issue.

Current definitions of Patient Safety

The pursuit of the reduction and mitigation of unsafe acts within the health care system, as well as the use of best practices shown to lead to optimal patient outcomes (Canadian Patient Safety Institute).

The freedom from accidental injury; ensuring patient safety involves the establishment of operational systems and processes that minimize the likelihood of errors and maximizes the likelihood of intercepting them (Institute of Medicine).

How are we doing so far?

Medavie Health Services strives to provide patient care that is accessible, reliable, competent and accountable. This goal would only be achievable within an organization that supports patient care with a strong patient safety framework. As an organization Medavie Health Services interacts with and transports more than 250,000 patients per year and travels more than 20,000,000 kilometers per year under ever changing conditions and environments. The risk of an adverse event or a near miss is ever present.

The following represents our efforts to date in developing a culture of patient safety within our organization:

We have identified Patient Safety as a strategic goal.

We have delegated focused resources to the task.

We have edited all position descriptions in the organization to reflect the role and expectations of everyone in the organization in patient safety.

We continue to evaluate and identify of high risk activities.

We have conducted organization wide staff surveys to obtain opinions from our staff.

We are considering implementing an organization wide electronic adverse event & near miss reporting system (work in progress).

We are currently developing an organization wide patient safety plan (currently in development).

Ongoing communication of key patient safety messages.

Patient safety issues and competencies integrated within staff continuing education activities

Within the EMS industry issues surrounding patient safety fall within a number of broad areas. Medavie Health Services is committed to ongoing monitoring and evaluation of these elements to evaluate processes, and to ensure early identification and mitigation of risk.

  • Culture
  • Communication
  • Infection Control
  • Work Life/ Work Force
  • Medication Management and Administration
  • Medical Procedures and Interventions
  • Transport/ Patient Handling
  • Protection on Scene
  • Patient Care(Protocol Compliance, Disclosure)
  • Transfer of Patient Care
  • System Issues

Patient Safety Culture

The culture of any organization results from the beliefs, values and behaviors that are accepted throughout the organization. Many people believe the culture of the organization is identified in the gap between what it says it will do, versus what it actually does. Medavie Health Services is committed to “walking the walk” in terms of diligence with a patient safety focus and fostering the healthy culture required to sustain it.

The Canadian Patient Safety Institute describes a culture of patient safety as one that reflects the knowledge, skills and commitment of all leaders, management, health care professionals and staff to the provision of the safest possible patient care. The culture appropriately and adequately supports providers in the provision of safe care, including continuous professional development. The culture encourages learning from adverse events and close calls to strengthen the system. Where appropriate, it supports and educates health care providers to help prevent similar events in the future. Justice is an important element; all are aware of what is expected, and are held professionally accountable in a fair way. Fairness and due process are fundamental to the determination of the reasons for adverse events. The interests of both patients and providers are protected.

Medavie Health Services, through our Mission, Values and Strategic Plan, strives to encourage and sustain a culture of patient safety that is based upon trust, fairness, clear communication, education and accountability.