Media Advisory - Stop medical errors, hospital infections: the second leading cause of death

Save tens of thousands of lives and billions of dollars, say book authors 

OTTAWA, May 9, 2012 /CNW/ - Thousands of Ontarians die needlessly due to medical errors, hospital-acquired infections and cost-cutting each year, say the authors of a new book titled Epidemic of Medical Errors and Hospital-Acquired Infections, who are in Ottawa for a media conference tomorrow Thursday, May 10 (9:30 a.m.) at 330 Kent St. (Royal Canadian Legion-Lower Hall). 

Hospital cost-cutting planned by the Ontario government will make the epidemic worse. 

The book probes the systemic issues - like unsafe patient volumes, inadequate staffing and shiftwork - of preventable hospital deaths due to what medical insiders refer to as "adverse events" such as hospital-acquired infections and bed sores that turn septic and kill patients in both Canada and the United States (U.S.). Medical errors and adverse events are even higher in the community sector and in private independent clinics. 

Edited by William Charney, an occupational health specialist for 30 years (ten as director of environmental health at the Department of Public Health in San Francisco, and five at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal) the book provides research from both sides of the border and examines the science behind possible solutions to prevent deaths.

"Preventing infections and errors saves hospitals money. But we are dealing with an epidemic of harm. Unless there is a will to tackle the systemic issues, little will change to subdue the epidemic," says Charney. His research shows that medical errors lead to more than 788,000 deaths a year in the U.S., making them the leading cause of death. In Canada, it's estimated between 56,000 and 63,000 people die as a result of medical errors and hospital-acquired infections - the second leading cause of death. Cancer is number one.

The Ottawa media conference is the first in a 15-community tour that includes Toronto, Montreal, Thunder Bay and Windsor and culminates with a June 4 conference at the Isabel Bader Theatre, 93 Charles St. W., in Toronto. 

"18 per cent of hospital admissions result in medical errors. The personal suffering this results in is staggering.  But preventable medical errors are going to get worse if the Ontario government cuts hospital budgets and thousands more beds as planned. Bed sores, for example, a leading result of medical error, are a direct result of understaffing," says Michael Hurley the president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) who has contributed a chapter to the book.

Epidemic of Medical Errors and Hospital-Acquired Infections is published by Taylor & Francis, a leading international academic publisher (http://www.taylorandfrancisgroup.com/).

To find out more about the June 4 conference go to: http://www.ochu.on.ca/conferences_conventions.html

SOURCE Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (CUPE)

For further information:

Stella Yeadon
Communications - Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE/OCHU) 416-559-9300

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Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (CUPE)

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