Are you ready for the next evolution in patient safety and quality improvement?

By Jason Thompson

For more than 10 years, the Canadian Patient Safety Institute has provided healthcare providers, largely those working on the frontline in acute care settings, with the tools and resources they need to provide safer care for their patients.

While a bottom-up approach to quality improvement and patient safety was a revolutionary concept 10 years ago, it is not sufficient on its own to sustain measurable change over time; ongoing support is required from organizational leaders. In addition, patients and families must be positioned as full partners in care.

As Bob Dylan crooned, the times, they are a changin’ . . . and now we need to change along with it.

When it comes to patient safety, there are three big questions everyone should be asking themselves. How do I prevent harm? How can I respond when harm happens? How can I learn from harm that’s already happened?

Considering the prevalence of harm in care, these are questions that desperately need answering:

  • In 2012-13, Canadian seniors experienced more than 84,000 fall-related hospitalizations, according to a study from Accreditation Canada and the Canadian Institute for Health Information and CPSI.
  • A 2013 report from the Public Health Agency of Canada indicates that every year 200,000 patients acquire an infection they did not have before they entered the hospital.
  • A 2012 study on the economics of patient safety found that the cost of preventable harm in acute care is more than $396 million a year.

The Canadian Patient Safety Institute is answering those questions with an initiative called SHIFT to Safety – the new source for patient safety tools and resources in Canada. Whether you’re a member of the public, a healthcare provider or a healthcare leader, we have tools and resources specifically for you.

Last year, the Canadian Patient Safety Institute conducted an exhaustive consultation process with both its users and staff to better understand the need going forward. While patients, family members, providers and leaders each had their own primary needs, what we heard can be distilled into three themes.

There is a fear of speaking up and a clearly identified desire to have opportunities for safe dialogue that would promote patient safety. There is also a lack of communication as people within the healthcare system look for more ways to connect and breakdown the silos and complexity of health care. Finally, there is too much work. Providers required assistance with team training and problem solving skills, they cannot and will not adopt another patient safety ‘solution’ which layers on complexity and procedure.

The goal of SHIFT to Safety, is to not only simplify the search for the latest and greatest in quality improvement tools and resources, but to facilitate providers, healthcare leaders, and patients and families coming together as a team for a common goal: successful care outcomes and zero preventable harm.

SHIFT to Safety takes these three distinct target audiences and addresses their simplest needs. By understanding those needs, we’re able to tailor current and future offerings specifically to these audiences, and package it in a way that is easily understandable and accessible.

SHIFT to Safety and all of it’s tools and resources can be found online at When users visit our mobile friendly site, they will be able to filter content based on whether they are a member of the public, a provider or a leader.  This will make it easy to see only the tools and resources specifically designed with their needs in mind.

Additional content is coming for the public, providers and leaders and you can expect a steady flow of new material over the course of the next 12 months and beyond.


Tools and resources currently available or coming soon for healthcare providers at include:

TeamSTEPPS – TeamSTEPPS, developed by the United States Department of Defense and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, improves safety and transforms culture in healthcare through better teamwork, communication, leadership, situational awareness, and mutual support. TeamSTEPPS is an evidence-based teamwork system that optimizes patient care by improving communication and teamwork skills among healthcare professionals, including frontline staff. It includes a comprehensive set of ready-to-use materials and a training curriculum to integrate teamwork principles into a variety of settings.

Choosing Wisely – When it comes to medical tests, more isn’t always better. More than two-thirds of diagnoses can be determined by medical history alone, without needing any tests. Choosing Wisely Canada helps patients engage in conversations with healthcare providers about unnecessary tests, treatments, and procedures, to make smart and effective medical choices.

Canadian Patient Engagement Network – Achieving safe healthcare for all Canadians requires everyone’s involvement. CPSI offers patients and families, patient advisors, healthcare providers, leaders, and organizations a place to connect in real time so they can share, learn and help others. The Canadian Patient Engagement Network is an open, public, and safe space; a community for anyone passionate about patient engagement or patient-centred care. It helps build individual and system capacity for effective patient engagement towards one common goal: safe healthcare for all Canadians.

Patient Safety and Incident Management Toolkit – When a patient’s safety is compromised, or even if someone just comes close to having an incident, you need to know you are taking the right measures to address it, now and in the future. CPSI provides you with practical strategies and resources to manage incidents effectively and keep your patients safe. This integrated toolkit considers the needs and concerns of patients and their families, and how to properly engage them throughout the process.

Jason Thompson works in communications at The Canadian Patient Safety Institute.