What lies at the core of Canadian Patient Safety Week?

By Chris Power

Asking someone why they do the things that they do can lead to a variety of responses. Some people might give you simple, closed answers, letting you know that their mind has been made up and their course is set. Still others might give you their entire life story as a preamble to why they do what they do in their lives, be it hobbies or working at a certain job.

However, asking an organization why it does what it does isn’t as simple. At that point, you’re not asking the organization, you are asking every person who works within it why they do what they do. This question becomes all the more poignant when you’re asking about why we at the Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI) host our annual Canadian Patient Safety Week (CPSW).

Over the years, CPSI has championed our vision of safe care for all Canadians. For me, this vision has a special place in my heart. I have worked in healthcare for a long time, beginning my journey as a nurse, and many years later, serving as CEO of Capital Health in Nova Scotia. I have always focused on moving forward with new practices that can help drive awareness and improvement of patient care. Believe me, I want people to be able to trust the healthcare system as much as we at CPSI do.

This circles back to why we host Canadian Patient Safety Week. The week is an annual campaign created in 2005 to inspire and celebrate extraordinary improvement in patient safety and quality. Over the years, it has been a relevant resource for anyone who participates in the healthcare system, from organizations to providers to patients and citizens.

However, this campaign is more than just a week of activity for participants. What Canadian Patient Safety Week provides is a voice for patients, healthcare providers, and their families. It provides an opportunity for people who have been negatively impacted by the healthcare system with a chance to share their stories and their experiences.

This year, the act of giving patients, providers, and families a voice is particularly relevant.  Our theme, Take With Questions, highlights the importance of encouraging healthcare providers, patients, and their families to speak up and ask the Five Questions to Ask About Your Medications. These questions, crafted by CPSI, Patients for Patients Safety Canada, the Canadian Pharmacists Association and the Canadian Society for Hospital Pharmacists, have been tailored to get to the heart of how medication should be handled. They are:

  • Changes – Have any medications been added, stopped or changed, and why?
  • Continue – What medications do I need to keep taking and why?
  • Proper Use – How do I take my medications and for how long?
  • Monitor – How will I know if my medication is working, and what side effects do I watch for?
  • Follow-up – Do I need any tests and when do I book my next visit?

These five questions provide a starting point from which to start a conversation about medication safety.

It is this conversation which expresses the core values that Canadian Patient Safety Week strives to uphold.

I encourage you to get involved with our campaign this year. You can check out the online resources at .ca and participate on social media.  I would love to see what your organization is doing on social media as well. Tweet using the asklistentalk and follow CPSI @Patient_Safety.

Chris Power is CEO, Canadian Patient Safety Institute.




Be sure to take full advantage of all the planned activities during Canadian Patient Safety Week:

  • Tune in to our brand-new PATIENT podcast series – a nonfiction medical drama about people trying to fix modern healthcare from the inside out.
  • Be sure to watch and share two new patient and provider videos. These personal stories remind us all why patient safety is so vitally important.
  • Test your medication safety knowledge and play the new medication safety quizzes for both patients and healthcare providers at ca
  • Join in the fun and engaging contest for Canadian Patient Safety Week – Catchy Phrase Contest: Question Your Meds. If you have an idea for a catchy phrase to remember the 5 Questions, I want you to share it with us at ca .