In pursuit of a safe Canadian healthcare system

Healthc Pap. 2004;5(3):10-26. doi: 10.12927/hcpap.2004.16860.


This paper provides evidence that Canada's healthcare system is not as safe as it needs to be, and suggests ways to make it safer. Healthcare leaders must recognize that patient safety is indistinguishable from the delivery of high quality, affordable healthcare, and they must become more knowledgeable about the extent of the patient safety problem in Canada. The creation of a Patient Safety Board, modelled after Canada's Transportation Safety Board, will provide the authority healthcare leaders require to reduce medical errors. Without a national Patient Safety Board we cannot efficiently and effectively identify, quantify and address medical errors in Canada. This paper also urges healthcare leaders to recognize that a fundamental tool in improving patient safety is the electronic health record (EHR). Return on investment data for a national EHR strategy are presented. The author focuses on three EHR initiatives: outpatient electronic prescribing; in-patient computerized physician order entry; and home-based diabetes disease management. Potential net savings to Canada from these three EHR initiatives alone approach $2 billion annually. We must accelerate our EHR investment. Coordinated national EHR initiatives will cost less, save lives and prevent harm when compared to the status quo. These initiatives will also provide the foundation for transforming our healthcare system and will assist in building a better-educated, healthier and therefore more economically competitive nation.

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Delivery of Health Care / economics
  • Delivery of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Errors / prevention & control
  • Medical Errors / statistics & numerical data*
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized / trends
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Safety