Share on Facebook

Patient, Protect Thyself!

Media coverage of cases involving medical error have made many Canadians question what goes on in hospitals. John Lewis, a Hamilton nurse whose daughter, Claire, died in hospital in 2001 as a result of staff errors, offers the following advice to patients and their families:

1 / 6

Doctors are the experts, but you know your loved ones best, so be vigilant about their care.

2 / 6
1. Be Vigilant

1. Be Vigilant

Ask questions. Keep careful records, perhaps a diary of medications, and note the names of all doctors and nurses.

3 / 6
2. You Know Best

2. You Know Best

If you have a loved one in hospital, you are the person who best knows the patient. Report any changes in their status to the medical team.

4 / 6
3. Complain to the Hospital

3. Complain to the Hospital

If you’re afraid that something has gone wrong in the patient’s care, try to set up a meeting with the hospital’s patient services department.

5 / 6
4. Complain to a Professional Association

4. Complain to a Professional Association

If you get no results from the hospital, remember that every province has a College of Physicians and Surgeons and a College of Nurses. These colleges must investigate all complaints. And in all but a small number of circumstances, it is your legal right to have access to your medical files.

6 / 6
5. Consider a Lawsuit.

5. Consider a Lawsuit.

If a patient’s care has led to further sickness or disability, and communications with health authorities have yielded no results, talk to a lawyer about beginning a civil suit. This should be considered a last resort.

For more information about patient rights, visit the Canadian Patients Safety Institute at www.hcsc.gc.ca/english /care/cpsi.html.