Healthcare Quarterly

Healthcare Quarterly 27(1) April 2024 : 19-25.doi:10.12927/hcq.2024.27326
Emerging Issues in Patient Safety

Building a Resilient Patient Safety Culture: A Large Healthcare Organization’s Approach to Systematically Reviewing Serious Harm Events

Brian Harvey, Irfan Dhalla, Cathy O’Neill, Christine Léger and Heidi Hunter


Across Canada, pressures related to staffing, burnout and funding continue to affect healthcare organizations and systems. These pressures impact the quality of care Canadians receive, most notably access to care. Evidence indicates that patients are more likely to suffer from preventable harm during periods of hospital overcrowding and, indeed, very recent data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information suggest that rates of preventable harm have increased modestly in Canadian hospitals. A key lever that can have a positive impact on patient safety culture and contribute to fewer preventable adverse events at an institutional level is systematic formal case reviews. This article describes a large healthcare organization's approach to systematically reviewing serious harm events. An evaluation of both quantitative and qualitative metrics suggests that Unity Health Toronto's critical incident review process has been effective at building a resilient patient safety culture that stood up to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to have a positive impact on patient safety at Unity Health Toronto.



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