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February 19, 2019

Opinion: Health care film that aims to inspire positive change from tragedy is a must-see

Dr. Dennis Kendel
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At age 31, Albertan Greg Price died unexpectedly on May 19, 2012. The Health Quality Council of Alberta (HQCA) reviewed Greg’s experience with Alberta’s health care system as he dealt with a serious and time-sensitive condition.  It concluded that poor continuity of care and poor communication between care providers contributed to Greg’s death.

Where did things go wrong?

Source: HQCA

The HQCA report on Greg’s case and its recommendations

In December 2013 the HQCA published a report from its review of Greg’s care experience and his death titled, “Continuity of Care Patient Study.” The report identified several health system issues that increase the risk of patients coming to harm through breaks in the continuity of their care. The HQCA made 13 recommendations, 10 of which were system improvements.

Recommended reading:

Following up: How recommendations from the Continuity of Patient Care Study have been implemented

The Price Family (left to right): Cathy (Matthew’s wife), Joanna, Matthew, Isabelle, Dave, Chad, Teri, and Jaclyn (Chad’s wife) Source: PatientSafetyInsitute.ca

Source: HQCA

October 2015, the Deputy Ministry of Health in Alberta asked the HQCA to review the extent to which its 10 recommendations had been implemented.

I was privileged to serve as a member of that review team. In the course of that review, I got to meet Greg’s amazing family. I developed a profound admiration for this family’s resolve to derive something positive from their tragic loss. 

Over the years since Greg died, his family has committed an amazing amount of time and energy to improve health care based upon lessons learned from the HQCA review. Their initial focus was on health care improvement in Alberta. However, the system flaws that contributed to Greg’s death are not limited to that province.

Recommended reading:

Other projects in the works for the Price family

Not only is the family busy travelling to screenings across the country (as well as internationally), they have also been busy setting up the following initiatives through which to remember Greg and inspire improvements in health care:

  • Greg’s Wings Projects – a not-for-profit organization established in honour of Greg Price. The organization initiates and supports projects that align with three focus areas inspired by Greg.
  • Falling Through the Cracks – film to incite positive change in the health care system based on Greg’s health care story.
  • Medical education initiative – a series of video modules to be used as a tool to enhance learning in health care.
  • Health Arrows – information from the Price family including Greg’s journey, blog posts, news items, and more.
  • The Co-Pilot Collective project – an online community where users can request access to use the film to spark dialogue and create the future of health care together. (Version 2.0 is currently in development)

Could this happen in Saskatchewan?

Saskatchewan’s health care system tracks and reports to the Ministry of Health serious adverse health care events that culminate in actual or potential loss of life, limb, or function. Between April 1, 2017 and March 31, 2018, a total of 188 such critical incidents were reported to the Ministry (Ministry of Health’s 2017-18 Annual Report). This means that we have enormous room for improvement in making health care safer in Saskatchewan.

Falling Through the Cracks: Greg’s Story

In 2017 the Price family collaborated with cinematographers to produce a powerful film entitled “Falling Through the Cracks: Greg’s Story.” His family members have travelled extensively to be part of over 150 screenings across Canada and internationally. At each screening, Greg’s family engages in dialogue with local health care professionals and citizens, with the goal of reducing the risk of other families suffering such a loss.

I have been privileged to join Greg’s family members in such dialogue after several screenings. On each of these occasions, I was deeply moved by the passion and tenacity of the Price family to make health care safer for all of us through the application of lessons learned from Greg’s experience.   

Greg’s father, Dave, and Greg’s Sister Teri.  Both Dave and Teri will be a part of the Saskatoon screening  Source: Calgary Journal

Why “Falling Through the Cracks”?

The film is entitled “Falling Through the Cracks” because gaps in communication and continuity of care are “cracks” in our health care system that put people at grave risk of harm. The film challenges each of us to consider how those gaps might be eliminated.

Watching the film and engaging in the post-viewing dialogue affords participants a profound opportunity to reduce the risk of harm in the course of health care. It challenges health care professionals and health system managers to consider how they can reduce dangerous gaps in continuity of care they provide.  It also helps us as citizens and patients understand how we each can be more proactive in optimizing our care.         

A Saskatoon screening of the film

The Health Quality Council (HQC) and the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) are collaborating to co-sponsor a free public screening of “Falling Through the Cracks: Greg’s Story” at the Broadway Theatre in Saskatoon on March 7, 2019. Members of Greg’s family will be there to participate actively in dialogue that will follow the screening. We will engage in a very honest discussion about what we can to do eliminate such dangerous gaps in health care in Saskatchewan.

If you have an interest in optimizing the safety of health care for you and your family, I would encourage you to attend this event on March 7th. As the theatre seating capacity is limited, I would urge you to act quickly to reserve a seat here.

Note: if you cannot attend the event, but are still interested in seeing the film, the family will be making the film more accessible to wider audiences in the near future. Visit their website, The Co-Pilot Collective project, for more information and to stay updated on when the wider release will occur.