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University Health Network (UHN) is a large network of 4 downtown hospitals and is Canada’s largest academic health sciences centre. UHN has embarked on a transformational strategic initiative known as Caring Safely. This initiative represents UHN’s commitment to safety as a major organizational focus that will eliminate preventable harm to patients and staff. Unique to UHN’s Caring Safely Transformation is the inclusion of specific programs that focus on safety culture, serious safety events and hospital acquired conditions. This transformation includes a commitment to partnering with patients and families to learn, understand and incorporate their perspectives into quality improvement initiatives and action plans aimed at improving the quality and safety of the patient experience.

A key strength at UHN is our Patient Partnerships Program. The Program recruits and prepares UHN patients and families for the role of a Patient Partner where they are matched to hospital planning and decision-making initiatives aimed at improving quality, care and service.

This leading practice describes our journey at UHN of orienting and preparing leaders and Patient Partners to discuss serious safety incidents within UHN’s safety and quality councils. This journey focused on:

  • Embedding a commitment from UHN leaders to engage Patient Partners on all 7 Safety and Quality Councils across the organization.
  • Building capacity in Patient Partners to be prepared for their role in discussions about safety.
  • Learning from patients who shared their safety stories at Council meetings.
  • Integrating Patient Partner perspectives during incident reviews and change recommendations.
  • Building capacity in staff and leaders to partner with patients and families.

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