More foreign bodies being left behind in Canadian patients after surgery: Report

Nov 7 2019, 12:01 pm

The results are in, and Canada’s patient safety performance is falling below average according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).

The most jarring result is a 14% increase in the number of foreign bodies left behind in patients after surgery in the last five years — more than two times the average rate of 12 reporting countries.

“In Canada, over the past two years, 553 foreign bodies (such as sponges and instruments) were left behind in patients after surgery,” said the report.

Compared to other OECD countries, Canada’s healthcare system fared well in areas such as quality of care; however, according to the report, “Canada performs below the international average in four out of five Patient Safety indicators.”

“While Canada’s healthcare systems are often admired, the international comparisons show that there is room for improvement,” says Tracy Johnson, Director, Health System Analysis and Emerging Issues, CIHI.

“We are lagging behind OECD countries in areas of patient safety. These are serious issues that are often preventable, and improving our performance in these areas will result in safer care for patients.”

Canada also received a poor grade in terms of patient safety for women in childbirth, as “Canadian women are two times more likely to experience tears during childbirth, and rates are not improving.”

Canadians are also almost two times more likely to develop a lung clot after hip and knee surgery, but the CIHI says that rates are improving.

While the results are not great, the news is not all bad, as Canada performs better than other developed countries in terms of quality of care.

According to the report, in Canada, survival rates for breast and colon cancer are among the highest in the world, and in-hospital deaths due to heart attacks and stroke have decreased by more than 20% over the past five years.

Further, the report says that 88% of women with breast cancer survive over five years and 67% of Canadians with colon cancer survive over five years.

Another positive highlight is that more seniors in Canada (61%) receive a flu vaccine compared to the average in other OECD countries (45%).

Canada’s overall performance aligns with the international average for 32 out of 57 health indicators, but we are below average for 12 indicators and above average for 13.