Dr. Etchells serves as a project mentor supporting Faculty members throughout the University who are involved in Quality Improvement work. He received his MD and subsequent specialty training in General Internal Medicine at the University of Toronto. He joined the faculty of the Department of Medicine after completing an MSc in Clinical Epidemiology. Dr. Etchell’s initial academic interest lay in clinical bioethics, with a focus on informed consent and decision making capacity. But, he realized – after five years of inpatient attending – that safe and reliable delivery of healthcare were recurrent problems. After delivering teaching rounds and presentations in patient safety at the University Health Network (Toronto Western Division) he moved to the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (SHSC) to direct the Error Management Unit, inspired by Dr. Donald Redelmeier.
Dr. Etchells conducted some of the original research that established medication reconciliation globally as a best practice in patient safety and he was a co-investigator on the Canadian Adverse Events Study. Working with Dr. Redelmeier, he co-founded the Patient Safety Service, the first hospital-based academic safety service in Canada, with support from the SHSC senior leadership team. The Service’s 2005 paper “Unintended Medication Discrepancies at the Time of Hospital Admission” is cited as a patient safety classic on the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s website, Patient Safety Net, and its novel methods for identifying and classifying medication errors were adopted by the Canadian Safer Healthcare Now! Campaign and the World Health Organization’s ‘High 5’s’ medication reconciliation initiative. Dr. Etchells helped to establish the Department of Medicine’s Quality Partners program in 2006 and the U of T Certificate Program in Quality and Patient Safety in 2008. He is currently Medical Director of Information Services at SHSC. His research interests include medication reconciliation, computerized medication order entry, and real time alerting and decision support for critical laboratory values.