This week is Canadian Patient Safety Week, a time to reflect on the important role and responsibility we all have in ensuring safe care and services for our patients, clients and residents. Saskatoon Health Region has made development of a safety culture for both patients and care providers one of our highest priorities.

Every day we see this demonstrated when staff practice good hand hygiene, knowing that this plays a major role in preventing infections. In our operating theatres, staff consistently conduct the surgical safety checklist to ensure that the right patient is receiving the right procedure on the right side, with other steps taken to ensure safe surgical care. We know that medication safety is extremely important. By conducting medication reconciliation on admission to hospital or home care, it ensures we know exactly what medications the patient/client was taking and should be taking. In long term care, staff take special care to prevent resident falls, recognizing that for many residents a fall can be literally a matter of life and death. The nurse and phlebotomist who make sure that the blood sample they have taken is appropriately labelled (every time) before being sent to the lab show they care about patient safety. The Public Health staff who work hard to ensure every child is appropriately immunized demonstrate their commitment to a safer community.

Some people may think that patient safety only involves doctors, nurses, therapists, pharmacists and other health professionals.But we all have a role. The Food and Nutrition Services staff who make sure food is safely prepared are safety champions. The Housekeeping staff who keep our facilities clean help save lives. The Facilities Services staff who repair our buildings and keep our sidewalks clear of snow make our facilities safer for patients, visitors and staff. We all have a role in identifying unsafe practices and circumstances that put our patients, clients and residents at risk.

Our aim is “do no harm”. This means no avoidable deaths, no preventable suffering or injury and no defects in the way we deliver our care. This goal mirrors our commitment to Mission Zero, the regional and provincial commitment to workplace safety, where we aspire to zero fatalities, zero injuries, zero suffering. We know that many good practices that make our care safer also promote a safer workplace. The nurse or therapist who uses appropriate technique and equipment to lift a patient prevents the patient from falling and protects her back from injury. The volunteer who identifies and attends to a spill on a floor may prevent both patients and staff from slipping and seriously injuring themselves. Staff and physicians who live up to their responsibility to get their flu vaccine, protect themselves, their families, their colleagues and the many patients, residents and clients with whom they come in contact.

Every day, thousands of Saskatchewan residents depend on us for care and service. In the vast majority of cases, we do a great job. Patients, clients, residents and families tell us that sometimes our care is exceptional.

But every day, we also cause harm and suffering to those whom we serve. Of the thousands of critical incidents reported last year, 49 resulted in permanent harm, near death or death of the patient, client or resident. We must do better. During that same period, 2,555 Saskatoon Health Region staff were injured at work. We must do better.

Together we can. Together we will. That is our job and our responsibility. Let’s make it our shared commitment.

Maura Davies
President and CEO
Saskatoon Health Region