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