Patient harm in Canadian hospitals? It does happen.

Hospitals are generally safe, but sometimes harmful events happen that affect patients. Many of these events are preventable.

How often does it happen? In 2018–2019, 1 in 18  hospital stays in Canada involved at least one harmful event (a total of 132,000 out of 2.5 million hospital stays).

What kinds of harmful events happen? There are 4 categories of harmful events. In 2018–2019, 45% were related to health care and medications (like bed sores or getting the wrong medicine); 30% were related to infections (like surgical site infections); 21% were procedure-related (like bleeding after surgery); and 4% were patient accidents (like falls).

What can be done about this? We are collecting data on how often these events are happening, using a new hospital harm measure. And we are providing information on how these events can be prevented.  

Note that all numbers mentioned here exclude Quebec and selected mental health diagnoses.