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Nova Scotia Government Releases First Patient Incident Report

Victor Lewin - Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A recently released government report from the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness that sheds light on "patient incidents": errors or accidents that happen in medical facilities. While this report, the first of its kind in the province, may be a step in the right direction, some say, it may not go far enough.

Up to the point the report was released, 2014 had seen 27 serious patient incidents related to causes such as surgery, labour and general patient safety issues, including falls. These incidents are based on individual quarterly reports from hospitals. This is the first time that the government has released this type of information to the public. The chair of the government committee in charge says that the purpose of the report is being "transparent" as well as identifying the major issues that are causing the incidents.

One Wolfville woman whose daughter died from an undiagnosed heart condition several years ago has spent years fighting for the release of this information. She points out that a major issue with the report and the data is actually acting upon that information to fix the errors going forward. The data in the report does not include information such as the name of the hospital, the medical staff involved or even the date on which the incident occurred. One doctor, however, thinks that this report and data collection is a great start to understanding errors that are complex in nature.

One lawyer notes that the availability of data on common issues may help those who have been harmed by medical malpractice in the province to come forward. In those cases, a lawyer may be able to help by examining the person's specific situation, examining the patient incident report to see if it is a common problem and recommending a course of action. This could include filing a civil lawsuit to seek damages for a physician's negligence or other medical errors.

Source: Global News, "Wolfville woman wonders how patient incident registry will lead to changes", Julia Wong, August 14, 2014

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