|Premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty|
Dear Premier, members of the Social Policy Committee and Liberal Caucus:
During our presentation to the Social Policy Committee about Bill 122 on Tuesday November 23, we expressed serious concern about the amendment limiting public access to "quality of care" information from hospitals, proposed by the hospital insurance company (HIROC), the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA), and the Ontario Medical Association (OMA).
We are disappointed to find out that your amendment, which you released Friday November 26 and will be voting about on Monday November 29, without public consultation, supports the request by the medical lobby, despite the fact that this is an amendment to anti-lobbying legislation designed to increase transparency and accountability.
The language of your amendment reads that the following should be excluded from information released to the public (24 - 6.1 - 18 - 1- j): "information provided to, or records prepared by, a hospital committee for the purpose of assessing or evaluating the quality of health care and directly related to programs and services provided by the hospital."
What is a committee - is this something that can be struck in a staff room anytime the hospital wants to keep information from the public? Your vague language appears to be a "compromise", but with who? Why is there a need to compromise public interest with the wishes of the insurance company?
If you wanted to define committee more clearly, you need only have referred to the exemption already available under QCIPA (Quality of Care Information Protection Act). Why didn't you do this, when this already has clear parameters of exemption?
We are also concerned that several members of the committee are medical doctors, and thus possibly members of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA), which put forward the amendment you have adapted. Would those members please recuse themselves from the vote, so as not to be in a conflict of interest position?
The Ontario Hospital Association claimed that releasing information to the public would undermine patient safety culture. We object to this. Patient safety culture needs patients. We need dialogue about medical error. Patients, academics, media and members of the public must get access to information which will help advance the cause of patient safety. Otherwise, we won't be able to independently assess the gaps in the quality of our healthcare system and we won't know what the biggest sources of medical error are.
Many lives are on the line here. According to the Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI), more Canadians are dying from preventable adverse events in hospitals than from breast cancer, motor vehicle accidents and HIV combined. In a CIHI survey in 2003, one in four Canadians said they or a family member experienced a preventable adverse event during treatment and more than half of those had serious health consequences.
If hospital information is released to the public, we can help you figure out why this is happening and contribute to solutions. There are a lot of good solutions out there, many of which our hospitals haven't tried or aren't even aware of - broader-based dialogue means more ideas for improving the system, more vigilance, and better care.
We ask that the Liberal members of committee vote against your own amendment, so that information about the quality of hospital care can be shared, excluding identifying patient information already protected in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). By voting down your own tabled amendment, you will be sending the message that patient right to safe care is a priority, above any other interests.
Thank you very much for your time and consideration. We look forward to your reply on an urgent basis, given the immediacy of this issue.
ImPatient for Change
FB: ImPatient for Change
SENT TO: Premier of Ontario Dalton McGuinty and social policy committee members Dr. Shafiq Qaadri (chair), Minister of Health Deb Matthews, Dr. Kuldip Kular, Vic Dhillon, Phil McNeely, Rick Johnson, Ted McMeekin, Jean-Marc Lalonde, Khalil Ramal.
Conservative members of the social policy committee (who tabled the exact wording of the insurance/OMA/OHA amendment, on behalf of the insurance company) are: accountability critic Lisa Macleod, Sylvia Jones and Elizabeth Witmer.
NDP members of the social policy committee (who oppose the amendment) are: health critic France Gelinas and Cheri Di Novo.