Press Releases

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Patient safety to be strengthened with enhanced discharge practices

Patient safety is the main focus of stronger discharge guidelines and a better process for transportation of patients discharged from Emergency Departments (ED), Arlene Wilgosh, Chief Executive Officer of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) announced today.

Two Critical Incident reviews at Grace Hospital have recommended the creation of a regional ED Discharge Checklist that will support the existing Safe Patient Discharge Guidelines in place in all WRHA Emergency Departments. The checklist will reinforce that patients are able to manage safely when they return home, that assistance or plans for follow-up care have been put in place, and that they understand what to do if their condition changes after discharge from the Emergency Department.

The Critical Incident Reviews did not identify any deficiencies in the medical assessments that were completed prior to discharging both patients from hospital. The CME is also reviewing these cases and we will respond to any recommendations coming from the CME. The reviews did identify opportunities to enhance existing processes, including making sure that discharge care plans are clearly documented and communicated effectively with patients.

“We have accepted the recommendations and are in the process of implementing them,” said Wilgosh. “We are also in the process of meeting with the families, to advise them of what we learned and to express our sincere condolences for their losses.”

“In addition, we will be making some administrative changes,” said Wilgosh. “We’ve worked collaboratively with taxi companies to create a set of guidelines for patient transportation which will include a clearer process for the use of taxi and stretcher services.”

While transportation home from hospital remains the primary responsibility of patients and their families, patient transportation guidelines have been amended to reinforce patient safety for those who need a ride home. A new initiative is a taxi voucher that will include specific instructions for drivers when patients need additional assistance after being discharged.

Accreditation Canada has also agreed to conduct a supplementary survey later this year to validate the current quality improvement work being done within the WRHA Emergency Program. WRHA looks forward to their feedback.

Emergency rooms across the WRHA recorded approximately 228,000 visits in the last fiscal year and approximately 177,400 patients were discharged home, or to a lesser extent, transferred to another facility. In the last fiscal year, the WRHA incurred just over $84,000 in taxicab transportation costs for patients who required additional assistance with transportation home from a Winnipeg Emergency Department.

“Everyone involved has worked to improve the discharge practices as a result of these incidents and I thank them for their efforts,” said Wilgosh. “As a learning culture, our expectation is that we always provide the best care possible. That means constantly evaluating processes and outcomes.”

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Traditional Territories Acknowledgement
The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority acknowledges that it provides health services in facilities located in Treaty One and Treaty Five territories, the homelands of the Métis Nation and the original lands of the Inuit people. The WRHA respects and acknowledges harms and mistakes, and we dedicate ourselves to collaborate in partnership with First Nation, Métis and Inuit people in the spirit of reconciliation.
Click here to read more about the WRHA's efforts towards reconciliation

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