Efficiency and the Pursuit of Patient Safety


  • Tom Archibald PhD candidate in Law, University of Ottawa.




Efficiency and patient safety are two important intersecting health policy goals. Efficiency should not be exploited for political expediency, but instead balanced against concerns with patient safety. Too often, the concept of efficiency has been used to justify cost saving or cost containment measures that create further adverse effects. There is clear evidence that nurseto- patient ratios have a direct impact on patient safety, but the government has resisted staffing more nurses on the basis of cost. This causes a greater cost in terms of human suffering and avoidable medical errors. Therefore, efficiency-based claims made by the government should be viewed with caution. Governments should establish a solid evidentiary foundation before advancing any efficiency claims in the health sector.