Canadian Patients Need to Wash Their Hands
The Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI) celebrated its third annual STOP! Clean Your Hands Day on May 6, 2013. On this day, public hospitals across the country encourage their health care providers to wash their hands to reduce the spread of hospital-acquired infections. I would have thought that health care professionals working in hospitals know when and how to wash their hands. The CPSI website states, “Although hand hygiene seems simple, it is a complex cultural change to establish. But it does have the potential to become the cornerstone of a safe, high-quality healthcare system. Preventing harm is worth the effort.” They have spent years developing tools to assist public hospitals with this so-called complex cultural change. Check out the clean your hands crossword and word search games that can be printed off and distributed to health care providers. There’s also a certificate of achievement for rewarding good hand washing behaviour.
Since 2003 the CPSI has spent nearly $100 million taxpayer dollars in the name of improving patient safety and quality in the Canadian health care system. According to their 2012 financial statements they received $8 million taxpayer dollars last year. Half of the money was spent on operations including salaries, wages, benefits, travel, meetings, and board members.
As a taxpaying patient, I don’t think I’m getting very good value for my money. In fact, things seem to be getting worse in the patient safety arena despite pouring all this money into the CPSI. Last year CBC’s Marketplace, a consumer watchdog show, set out to examine why “Canada has the highest rate of hospital acquired infections in the developed world…” Its episode on dirty hospitals reveals some of the cost-cutting measures taken by the CEO’s of public hospitals in order to meet targets for their pay bonuses.
What if you don’t want to receive medical care in a dirty public hospital? What if you don’t want to go to a hospital where the staff are not washing their hands? A government monopoly on health care leaves Canadian patients with no other choice. As taxpaying patients we must rally for change.
Let’s start by washing our hands of the Canadian Patient Safety Institute