Being aware of the health care system saves lives, says Manitoba Institute for Patient Safety

Members of the Thompson Chamber of Commerce learned about the Manitoba Institute for Patient Safety (MIPS), during their meeting on June 17. Denise Widmeyer. leader of patient safety initiatives, travelled to Thompson to start the city on the track of learning more about patient safety.

MIPS is a non-profit organization that started in 2004 that works as an advocacy group. “We work with regulatory bodies but we are not a watchdog. We do not deal with complaints from the public regarding healthcare experiences. What we are is a advocacy organization, to help people advocate for themselves through health care, and to talk about concerns regarding health and care,” explained Widmeyer.

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Widmeyer is hoping to get the message of vigilance out to Thompson, and for people to not be frightened to ask questions to health care professionals. Patients are harmed in the health care system. A study, which was done in 2000 by Dr. Ross Baker and Associates, stated that eight per cent of deaths were preventable hospital deaths. Widmeyer says the numbers have been consistent since then.

Citizens can learn to become vigilant in many different ways, Widmeyer noted. People first must engage in the health care system and ask questions. The top three questions that need to be asked are: what is my health problem, what do I need to do, and why do I need to do this? Another good way to be aware is to find an advocate. An advocate can be a friend or family member who comes to doctor’s appointments, who are able to ask questions, and write the answers down. They are also available to offer support.

The final way to be vigilant is to keep a health history. Widmeyer suggests writing all appointments down in a book, with dates, times, and results, and to have this information available when seeing another doctor.

MIPS also has E.R.I.K forms which are available on www.safetoask.ca. These forms allow a person to write down all medications, medical history, and health card and insurance information. These forms should be kept on a person all the time, or on the fridge in case of an emergency.

MIPS is also looking for a Thompson person to become a volunteer for the organization to serve the north. This person would help advocate for the organization as well as patients’ rights and responsibilities. 

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