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Making Surgery Safer

Health and safety risks for surgical patients in Saskatchewan are typically low. However, our province is working to further reduce your risk by consistently following practices that have been proven to improve patient safety – before, during and after surgery.

These are just some of the ways we’re providing safer care in Saskatchewan.

Medication Reconciliation

Medication Reconciliation (MedRec) is a process where health care providers work with patients and their families to ensure medication information is communicated accurately and completely at every stage of care. This includes admission and discharge from a hospital, and other points of contact with the health care system.  MedRec reduces the risk of medication errors by giving providers the information they need to order and administer the correct medications. 

What does this mean for me?

As we roll out this program across the province, patients admitted to a health care facility or seen in an emergency department will have their medication history taken.

What information will I need to provide?

  • When you are in contact with the health care system (for example, are admitted to hospital or visit the emergency department) you will be asked to provide a list of all the prescription medications you are currently taking, how much you take of each, how often, and when you last took them.

  • You will also be asked about over-the-counter and other medications that you may be using – such as vitamins, medicated creams, and inhalers.

If you are unsure of your medications, a family member or care provider can work with the health care provider to provide this information. You can bring the medications with you to show the health care provider what you are taking (e.g. pill bottles).

Visit Knowledge is the Best Medicine for tools and information about how to work with your health care team to manage your medicines safely and appropriately.

Surgical Safety Checklist

Standardized checklists have been implemented in all operating rooms across our province.  The surgical safety checklist was developed as part of a World Health Organization (WHO) global patient safety program and is proven to keep patients safer during surgery.  The checklist is a set of questions and reminders that your surgical team will confirm with you and with each other before, during, and after your surgery.  The checklist has three parts: the briefing is completed with the patient and the surgical team before anaesthesia is given, the time-out is completed by the surgical team before incision, and the debriefing is completed by the surgical team before the patient leaves the operating room.

Surgical ChecklistThe benefits of using the checklist are improved teamwork and communication, increased efficiency and reduced surgical complications.

What does this mean for me?

As you are prepared for the operating room, your surgical care team will ask you to confirm your name, date of birth, any allergies you have, and they may ask you other questions about your surgery to ensure they have the correct information to keep you safe. Fully answer all questions and ask for clarification if you do not understand.

Don’t hesitate to ask a member of your surgical care team if the checklist has been implemented by the hospital and if it will be used for your surgery. If it has not been implemented, don’t be afraid to ask what procedures are in place to make your surgery safe.

Reducing Surgical Site Infections (SSI)

Our health regions are implementing practices that aid in reducing the frequency of surgical site infections, such as the surgical site infections prevention bundle validated by Safer Healthcare Now!. The bundle consists of four care processes that, when carried out together during your surgery, are proven to reduce the likelihood of developing a surgical site infection.

Antibiotics and Skin Preparation: Antibiotics should be administered within one hour prior to surgery. Given properly, antibiotics can lower the chance of infection post-surgery. The surgical site will be cleaned using an antiseptic solution, which also lowers the chance of an infection.  

Hair Removal: If hair needs to be removed from the surgical site, a health care professional will clip it just before surgery. Do not shave or remove the hair at your incision site as this can increase the chance of infection due to small cuts in the skin.

Blood Glucose: Controlling glucose in diabetic patients during surgery helps to reduce chance of infection.

Temperature: Keeping warm during surgery reduces the chance of infection post-surgery, so health care professionals will monitor your temperature before, during, and after surgery.

What does this mean for me?

Following your procedure, your surgical care team will provide you with detailed instructions for taking proper care of your surgical site. Instructions will vary depending on the type of surgery and your personal health situation.

Once you have left the hospital, don’t hesitate to contact your surgical care team or your family doctor if you have any questions or concerns about your surgical site.

Surgical Information System

The surgical care process is getting smoother for patients and more efficient for health care providers.

Saskatchewan's new computerized Surgical Information System (SIS) is now operational in Prince Albert Parkland Health Region (Victoria Hospital, Prince Albert), Cypress Health Region (Cypress Regional Hospital, Swift Current), Five Hills Health Region (Moose Jaw Union Hospital), and Prairie North Health Region (Battlefords Union Hospital and Lloydminster Hospital).

It will be introduced in the Saskatoon Health Region next year.

The system offers a range of benefits, including:

Surgical Scheduling: Surgical cases are electronically booked and managed.

Charting: Operating room staff can track patient preparation, medications, specimens taken, equipment used, and procedure times.

Supply Management: Ordering of equipment and supplies is automated, so everything needed for a surgical procedure is readily available.

Patient Tracking: Staff and families can be visually notified about where the patient is physically located during the surgical process, so they are informed about the patient's progress.

Easy Access to Information: Health providers with appropriate access levels can easily and securely find necessary information about a patient's health status.

Patient Safety: Surgical Information System supports planning, monitoring and recording of surgical events.

Electronic Health Records

Nursing Using ComputereHealth Saskatchewan’s One Patient, One Record initiative is working to develop an electronic health record for every person in our province. An electronic health record is a private, lifetime record of a person’s medical information. It provides health care professionals with immediate access to a patient’s test results, past treatments and medication profiles – information they need to provide safe, effective treatment.

What does this mean for me?

Learn how your electronic health record can empower you as a patient and make you an active partner in the health care decisions that affect you. To learn more, visit eHealth Saskatchewan.

 See left menu for more patient information.

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