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HQCA shows heath system flaws with death of Alberta cancer patient

As Alberta Health Services rolls out its new electronic referral service, the Health Quality Council of Alberta said they hope it will be paired with greater patient access to health records.

It’s the top of 13 recommendations by the group released in a report Thursday.

“It’s best for the system and its particular best for patients so if they’d like to know where they’re at in the system they can and we can empower them to do that with better information,” said Ward Flemons, HQCA medical advisor and co-author of the study.

Other recommendations include streamlining procedures by allowing specialists to book appointments for patients rather than just primary care physicians and amending physician standards and medical staff rules to better pass along information for patients with time sensitive issues.

“In our minds the most important issue is that reliable continuity of care, when patients are referred to specialized services, is not that reliable sometimes,” said Flemons.

The study was done along with examining records of an Alberta cancer patient, identified as Greg, who died a couple days after surgery.

The timeline of Greg’s care began when a doctor discovered something worrying during a routine check-up.

The report identifies several gaps in the co-ordination of his care between professionals and that Greg was the driving force behind many needed appointments.

His father, Dave Price, blamed Greg’s death on the system.

“We believe he died prematurely because of multiple gaps and failures in the so called system of healthcare in Alberta,” said Price.

“The healthcare system should provide continuous, collaborative, patient contorted care.”

Greg’s family is setting up a website to track any changes in the system these recommendations will bring.

Flemons, said the study can’t show weather Greg would have lived if their recommendations had been in place, but things like greater access to information for patients during treatment can help patients receive needed treatment sooner.