A retired Penticton nurse is one petition closer to helping thousands of patients injured or killed in hospitals by preventable harm and medical errors every year.
Teri McGrath and the Penticton Seniors’ Drop-in Centre’s president Mignonne Wood and director Liz Hansen collected 150 signatures demanding medical reform and compensation for errors that result in blood clots, infections, childbirth trauma, and damage from medical instruments left behind in surgical patients. They presented the petition to MLA Dan Ashton on Nov. 8.
According to the petition, one in 18 patients experience preventable harm and very few of them ever get any type of compensation. The petition also says there is no mandatory reporting of errors that can be used to educate and change procedures.
“Lots of people don’t know what’s going on. But people are starting to talk about it and want something done but nobody really knows about no-fault compensation and how hard it is to get compensated when a preventable medical error happens,” she said.
McGrath says if the province implements a no-fault system that supports victims of preventable medical errors, along with mandatory reporting of them, it would be easierto research and find solutions to the problem, which, according to the Toronto-based University Health Network (UHN), killed as many as 30,277 Canadians in acute care in 2014.
“Most people just want answers and changes made to prevent these errors from happening again, not a blame and shame court case,” she added.
McGrath’s latest plea comes in the wake of a new Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) report that says avoidable complications are 90 per cent more likely in Canada on average than in other OECD countries.
The CIHI also says more than 550 foreign objects, such as instruments and sponges, were left in patients after surgery — a 14 per cent increase in the past five years and more than twice the average rateof other reporting countries.
Right now, McGrath says governmental reporting of avoidable injuries is unreliable at best. For example, when she began researching the topic, she filed an access-to-information request to Health Canada that stated only 154 people died in 2017. But, the UHN and CIHI, two reputable organizations, estimate the number to be between about 28,000 to 30,000 a year.
She is also urgently pressing the B.C. Standing Committee on Health to convene on the issue and come up with a solution.
Ultimately, she feels that change will come from Canadians demanding it.
“I believe personally that the court of public opinion is what is going to change things and that’s what the petitions are. I believe that in my heart,” she said.