Heather Forsyth, the Wildrose Party’s Health Critic, brought up Greg’s Journey and the HQCA Continuity of Patient Care Study in the Legislature last week. Below is the Hansard (house transcript) copied directly from the Legislative Assembly of Alberta website.
Continuity in Health Care
Mrs. Forsyth: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The story of Greg Price is tragic. It was told in vivid detail in December’s Health Quality Council report. Greg died two years ago at the age of 31 of testicular cancer. It’s tragic because the barriers that Greg faced while trying to access health care were well known by this government. The report notes six surveys over 10 years, each identifying the same fundamental problem, a systematic breakdown in communication. The breakdown prevented Greg from receiving timely care. To the minister. Greg’s story is not unique, and it’s not new. Why, after a decade of knowing . . .
Mr. Horne: Well, Mr. Speaker, I really want to thank the hon. member for the question. The story of that young gentleman is indeed very tragic. However, as the hon. member knows, the primary conclusion of the report was not only that there was a failure of communication but that there was a failure at several junctures in the course of Greg’s care of physicians to communicate and share information regarding that patient. As a result of that report, we have begun work with the College of Physicians & Surgeons and other health professionals to determine what can be done to ensure that those breakdowns don’t occur.
The Speaker: Supplemental, please.
Mrs. Forsyth: Thank you. Given that a priority in the 2010 five year health action plan is now also a recommendation in the report following Greg’s tragic death and given that the recommendation was to create an e-referral system connected to Netcare that would standardize the referral process, can the minister explain why Albertans are continuing to wait for this government to follow through on a four-year-old promise?
Mr. Horne: Well, Mr. Speaker, that was certainly one of the recommendations, and we are looking at the e-referral system in conjunction with Alberta Health Services. But the primary conclusion of the report is something that I think all of us can benefit from reflecting upon, and that is: first and foremost, physicians have responsibility and accountability for the care that they provide to patients. That includes, as the report demonstrates, communication that occurs when the patient is with the physician and when the patient is referred to another physician.
The Speaker: Hon. member, final sup.
Mrs. Forsyth: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. That leads into my next question. Given that the report spoke of doctors not being informed about patient care in emergency, not being informed about care their patients received from specialists, and not being informed about the patients’ diagnostic tests or their results, how can Albertans needing health care today be assured that they won’t fall through the same cracks as Greg did?
Mr. Horne: Mr. Speaker, first and foremost, what patients can rely on is the fact that this government and, I believe, physicians as a community in this province recognize that there is a great deal to be learned from this report. Again, the primary recommendations are around the accountability of physicians for the care that they provide to patients, both the care that they provide directly and the responsibility to share information when they make referrals to other physicians and, when they receive results of tests, to share those with other physicians as well. That is the learning from this very important report.
Note: One point that we would like to clarify is that Greg died from a preventable blood clot post-surgery.