Examining medical errors and their victims

Medical errors kill 24,000 Canadians each year, adversely affect hundreds of thousands, and cost close to two billion dollars. Victims of medical errors and their families who speak out often do so at considerable emotional, psychological, and financial expense. But their willingness to share their harrowing stories has helped to lay the foundation for numerous patient safety programs and continues to identify problems, provide solutions, and raise awareness.

After the Error is a collection of true stories from across Canada, and the first book anywhere to recognize what patients affected by medical errors, their families, and immediate healthcare providers have done to prevent others from enduring similar experiences.

The book’s authors, Susan McIver and Robin Wyndham, host the Winnipeg launch of After the Error on Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 7:30 pm in the Travel Alcove of McNally Robinson Booksellers in the Grant Park Shopping Centre. The authors will be speaking as well as signing books.

“We wrote the book to recognize what patients affected by medical errors, their families and immediate healthcare providers have done to prevent others from enduring similar traumatic experiences,” McIver said. “Their activities have helped to lay the foundation of current patient safety programs and continue to raise awareness, identify problems and provide solutions.”

In the past decade there has been an exponential increase in efforts of various types to prevent errors. However, there has been little, if any, attention focused on the accomplishments of individual patients and their families whose lives have been forever changed. After the Error was written to highlight their achievements.

McIver holds a Ph.D. in entomology/microbiology, was a professor at the University of Toronto with appointments to the Faculty of Medicine, and a department chair at the University of Guelph. Subsequently, she served as a community coroner in British Columbia. She is also the author of Medical Nightmares: The Human Face of Errors.

Wyndham is a registered nurse who studied English at the University of British Columbia and nursing at the Vancouver General Hospital School of Nursing. She worked in the areas of neonatal intensive care, surgery, psychiatry, and residential care with a special interest in palliative care.

The first part of the book is comprised of 16 true stories from across Canada.

“The stories in the book are examples of what can be done by individuals to help prevent errors and they also remind readers that in spite of increasing efforts to prevent errors, they continue to devastate lives,” Wyndham said.

The chapters in the second part offer information on how to prevent errors when making end-of-life decisions, how to use the media and how to organize large amounts of information, such as medical records, in order to facilitate investigations. The final chapter offers insights into medical malpractice.

Mimi Raglan of Winnipeg is among the contributors. She will also be speaking on Thursday evening. Upon the passing of the Personal Health Information Amendment Act in Oct 2008, Manitoba’s Minister of Health Theresa Oswald publicly described Mimi Raglan and her husband, Blake Taylor as “extraordinary people”. The act permits ready access to personal health information to patients, including those in personal-care homes, and their families and is the result of nine years of work by Mimi and Blake.

The book, After the Error, Speaking Out About Patient Safety To Save Lives, which was launched last Friday in Toronto has already attracted considerable media attention including articles in the Globe and Mail, the National Post, and the Toronto Sun. The book will be featured on CBC’s The Current on Wednesday morning. While in Winnipeg McIver and Wyndham will appear on CTV Morning Live on Thursday, April 18. Later that morning they will be interviewed by Richard Cloutier on CJOB-AM.

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