August 20, 2012
As a teaching hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto, Women’s College Hospital (WCH) knows just how important education and research are in advancing health care. Many of our clinicians and health-care practitioners devote countless hours to learning more about science and medicine so they can share new facts and discoveries with others.
As vice-president, education at WCH, Dr. Anne Matlow is at the helm of teaching the next generation of health professionals.
What’s more, Dr. Matlow is also committed to research. She recently led a team of scientists to uncover factors associated with unintended injuries in young patients at Canadian hospitals.
The purpose of the Canadian Paediatric Adverse Events Study was to determine the frequency, type, severity and preventability of harmful events in children in academic pediatric hospitals compared with those in community hospitals.
The team gathered their data from 3,669 medical charts at eight pediatric centres and 14 community hospitals from seven provinces.
Data showed that more children (11.2 per cent) experience complications or unintended injuries in academic hospitals compared to community hospitals (3.3 per cent). However, the events in academic hospitals are more difficult to prevent.
Although this finding had been previously reported, Dr. Matlow and her team went above and beyond by suggesting possible explanations.
For instance, they proposed that the reason for higher rates of injury in teaching hospitals may be because there are more patients in these hospitals with complex illnesses, more caregivers and more handoffs between health-care providers.
One of the most notable discoveries in this study was that adverse events were highest in surgical patients. The authors attribute this to the Canadian practice of performing most surgery in children under five years in academic hospitals.
“These findings are likely not unique to Canada as risk factors for unsafe care in pediatrics are universal, including children’s physical characteristics and developmental variability,” says Dr. Matlow. “We hope our results will catalyze widespread efforts to improve pediatric health-care safety in Canada.”
The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, University of Calgary, University of Alberta, University of Manitoba, Université de Montréal, Dalhousie University and Memorial University. The two major funders were SickKids and the Canadian Patient Safety Institute.Jump to top page