Rx: T3’s for Healthcare

This blog is intended to be a safe space for the exploration of important ideas and questions related to the healthcare system in Canada. The title (Rx:T3’s for Healthcare) refers to prescriptions that will help us to discover ways to improve the present situation. T3 refers to the concept that it is Truth Telling Time, or perhaps just it’s Time to Tell the Truth. I am not implying that someone is actively lying about healthcare; rather there seems to be a reluctance to talk about events and experiences that occur every day. If we don’t talk about these events, it is hard to imagine how they will ever change. In other words, truth telling is essential to improving the current situation in Canadian healthcare.

A couple of examples (that will be expanded on in future blogs entries) will help to illustrate the need to prescribe T3’s for healthcare.

For instance, it is a sad but not unusual thing for a small number of university students to end their lives by suicide each year. Occasionally these events will be mentioned in the media but there has rarely been any sustained or effective follow-up. There is little analysis of the many factors that contribute to this public health and mental health crisis. No exploration of whether the response to stress, anxiety and depression experienced by students is appropriate. Once in a while students at a particular university will organize a demonstration to draw attention to the fact of university student suicides.

This is surely a subject that cries out for truth telling, followed by robust reviews and analysis.

Or let’s look at another example, which is foundational in the patient safety field – the existence of unintentional harm to patients. We know that people in hospital may deteriorate and die. After all, they are sick and that is why they are in the hospital. Imagine the “surprise” when it became clear, as a result of research studies, that a significant number of the cases of serious harm or injury, including death, were not only unrelated to the underlying disease that brought the patient to the hospital but many of them were entirely preventable. In Canada that equates to at least 50 people dying every day as a result of breakdowns in the way care was provided. The number experiencing serious harm is at least ten times that number. There is reason to believe that the number dying is closer to 100 patients each and every day. The most recent (May 8, 2019) release from the Canadian Patient Safety Institute states “Did you know that in Canada, every 13 minutes, a patient dies from preventable harm in our healthcare system? We must do better!” When was the last time you heard about this in any other kind of media? And where have you seen any serious public analysis of this deplorable situation, let alone serious proposals to address this major public health epidemic?

This is surely another subject that cries out for truth telling and serious review to try to improve the situation of patients attending acute care hospitals in Canada.

These and many other topics will be explored in the search for “treatments” for Canadian healthcare. Initially contributions will be by invitation and will be curated. It is my hope that the commentaries and articles will stimulate robust discussion and dialogue. If you have ideas for topics or questions that need to be “aired” contact us through the contact form.

— Rob Robson, May 15, 2019