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Less nursing, more medical errors

Recent Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) data indicates that Ontario has a relatively high number of "nursing-sensitive adverse events" compared to other provinces.  An "adverse event" (or "medical error") occurs when something happens in the hospital that hurts rather than helps a patient.

Over the last three reported years (ending 2011-12), nursing sensitive adverse events for surgical and medical patients averaged 5.1% higher in Ontario compared to the Canada-wide average.  (If Ontario could be removed from the Canada-wide average, the discrepancy would be higher still.)

Ontario funds hospitals at just about the lowest level of any Canadian province. So the same CIHI data also indicates that nursing hours per patient (or, more specifically, "per weighted case") are 12.5% more across Canada than in Ontario.  That means an extra 5.32 hours of nursing care per patient Canada-wide compared to Ontario.  

It sounds pretty reasonable to think that forcing nurses to provide the same care in less time is going to lead to more "nursing sensitive adverse events."

With thousands of nurses being cut from Ontario hospitals, this problem may well get worse. 

Photo: drp 

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