Every medical student is taught early in his or her training the Latin phrase Primum non nocere, “first, do no harm.” For physicians this means preventing harm and providing safe care, and this must be the first order of business.
As a physician, I have spent much of my life focused on providing safe care. Whether it has been through my work as a surgeon, teaching surgery to young physicians, or as a healthcare administrator and CEO, healthcare safety has always been a passion of mine. I have also seen the same shared passion and conviction to provide safe care among my many physician colleagues and I most definitely see it among our employees at the CMPA.
Whenever I speak on behalf of the CMPA, in defence of our commitment to protect our members, I reiterate: “I have yet to meet a physician who wakes up in the morning with the intention of doing harm.” As every physician knows, our healthcare system relies on a delicate set of interdependencies within a system of care that is complex, stressed, and ever-changing. Within this system, I believe that physicians share a conviction to prevent harm and to provide the best care possible.
As CEO of the Canadian Medical Protective Association, I am personally committed to supporting patient safety by advancing a multi-pronged approach in the prevention of harm from medical care. I truly believe that we can make the Canadian healthcare system safer by focusing our efforts and by first “doing no harm.” The CMPA’s new 2015–2019 Strategic Plan channels increased effort into our goal of supporting the safest possible healthcare system, and we intend to do so in collaboration with our members and other healthcare stakeholders.
This 2015 special edition of Perspective focuses on healthcare safety. The articles provide a thought-provoking blend of topics and tackle some of the key safety challenges faced by healthcare providers. It features articles on identifying safety risks at both the system and individual levels and explores why a culture of safety matters. It reviews the role of providers in safe healthcare delivery and examines how we can effect change to advance safety.
I hope this edition provides you with valuable tips and lessons learned that will support you in your continued commitment to deliver safe, quality care to your patients.
Yours in safety,
Hartley Stern, MD, FRCSC, FACS