Safety & Quality

Dr. Sandy Widder

Director - Safety and Quality

The Canadian Healthcare system is under a period of intense pressure and transformation. Current crisis including the covid-19 pandemic and ballooning government deficits has placed significant additional pressures on a system that was already struggling. Even before these challenges, on a daily basis, we faced issues of high costs, fighting for timely and accessible care, and ensuring equitable care to all patients despite socioeconomic status. The struggle to improve these challenges is the basis of Health Quality and Patient Safety as a field of study, research, and improvement. improving healthcare outcomes is the key priority of any healthcare delivery or research organization. We recognize this and fully immerse ourselves in this belief. The Department of Critical Care Medicine at the University of Alberta and our academic chair, Dr. Sean Bagshaw, has made the study and practice of Health Quality and Patient Safety a fundamental pillar of everything that we do.

On a micro and community level, our efforts and projects are designed to improve care for our own patients. On a macro and societal level, our efforts and projects are designed to be shared through both quality and research methodology with the wider world in the hopes that we may improve the Canadian healthcare system and healthcare outcomes around the world.

The Department of Critical Care Medicine at the University of Alberta has the advantage of operating in a unified healthcare system with closely linked intensive care units throughout the City of Edmonton and throughout the Province of Alberta. This provides for many local opportunities for healthcare quality and patient safety improvement. Local is key when it comes to our field. With intricately linked units, local work can then be shared with a wider community for improvement and refinement.

Our goals closely align with those of the Institute of Medicine and the Health Quality Council of Alberta. We focus on improving safety, effectiveness, patient centredness, timeliness, efficiency, and equality.

Over the years, we have added several academic and clinical researchers with specialized training in Health Quality and Patient Safety. This group includes graduates from Canadian, American, and European health quality / safety programs.

Current research programs in health quality and patient safety have included local programs to improve mobilization post mechanical ventilation, reduce waste, improve line infection rates, and enhance the quality and efficacy of handovers. Much larger scale community and provincial wide programs have included Strategic Clinical Networks, delirium initiatives, medication reconciliation programs, and post ICU follow up clinic. Training programs for clinical fellows in Critical Care Medicine has also been created with the goal of eventually offering a grad level program through the university.

Our approach is always multidisciplinary and collaborative. Our goal is to engage and teach our clinical colleagues, provide local solutions that can be expanded beyond, and share our findings with the world. As our healthcare system is stressed by new challenges such as covid and old demons such as ever tightening budgets, we realize that necessary changes and improvements will only come with an increased focus on the study, measurement, and improvement of health quality and patient safety.

We look forward to hearing from you, as a patient or a medical professional or healthcare shareholder, regarding any concerns, ideas, or collaborative initiatives you may have. Please do not hesitate to reach out.

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