Did you know that approximately 30, 000 people in Canada die each year from medical error and/or preventable healthcare instances? Just to put it in perspective, that’s almost equal to the 35,594 people in Canada that died in 2012 from stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases, and accidental injuries combined.
This week is Canadian Patient Safety Week. This is a nationally designated annual event led by Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI) that focuses on increasing awareness of patient safety issues in Canada. This year’s theme is Questions Save Lives! #AskListenTalk
Midwives in Ontario organize their care around three principles that increase patient safety by encouraging people to ask questions, receive information, and speak up. These principles are not exclusive to midwifery care. However, midwives, midwifery practice groups and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care have committed to embedding these principles in every aspect of midwifery care as central tenets.
Continuity of Care: This means that you will meet and get to know a small group of midwives and you will know the person who attends your birth. How does this contribute to patient safety? When your care provider is familiar with you and your health history they are in a strong position to flag both obvious and subtle risk factors as they arise, offer a preventative approach to risk reduction and respond to health issues quickly. When patients/clients know their care provider, they may be more likely to feel comfortable disclosing private health information, asking questions about their health and their plan of care and speaking up if something doesn’t seem right.
Informed Choice: The College of Midwives of Ontario requires midwives to “…provide clients with the following information throughout the course of care as part of the informed choice process:
- The potential benefits, risks, and alternatives to procedures, tests and medications.
- Relevant information regarding midwifery scope of practice and CMO standards of care.
- Relevant community standards.
- Relevant research evidence, including any deficiency of clear evidence.
- Identification of the midwife’s bias, if significant.”
Gaining a thorough understanding of health care options empowers people to make choices that are right for them and to become increasingly competent and confident in becoming an equal partner with health care providers in ensuring safe care in the health system.
Choice of Birthplace: Midwives offer the option of hospital or home birth (and sometimes birth centre, if available in your community). After an informed choice discussion tailored to the specifics of the person, clients can choose where and how their health services are delivered. Birthplace is really just one example of the way in which midwives ask parents to be involved in the decision-making in their own care. Midwives support clients to understand and assume responsibility for their health decisions. Supporting patients to be collaborative and primary decision makers in their care encourages people to speak up, to ask questions, to question health care providers and thus to participate in their own safeguarding. When they do that, they in turn take responsibility for their growing family’s health.
Asking questions, providing and receiving information, making choices, speaking up: