20 February 2024

VANCOUVER – It is with incredible sadness that Health Quality BC acknowledges the passing of Dr. Doug Cochrane.

At both a national level and in British Columbia, few have done more to ensure people are safe and experience high quality care than Dr. Cochrane. He was pioneer and one of the key founders of the patient safety and quality improvement movement in Canada.

In 2003, patient safety and quality were just beginning to receive attention in Canada. It was Dr. Cochrane who brought this to BC. It was his leadership and relentless pursuit of quality that has built the foundation we now have today. While his practice and leadership roles were in the province of BC, he also held national positions and worked tirelessly to improve health systems across Canada and the world.

As a highly respected pediatric neurosurgeon, Doug trained generations of Canadian and international medical students, residents, and fellows, while caring for the sickest children in the province and performing over 3000 neurosurgical operations. Tens of thousands of clinic patients and their families remember his skill, his constant good cheer and his smile.

In addition, he held several leadership roles to advance patient safety and quality. He served as the first Provincial Patient Safety & Quality Officer from 2008 – 2019, and both the inaugural Chair of the BC Patient Safety Task Force (2003 – 2008) and Health Quality BC/BC Patient Safety & Quality Council (2008 – 2019).

He was also one of the first Chairs of the Canadian Patient Safety Institute and oversaw Safer Healthcare Now! which was the first national initiative to advance patient safety in our country. Most recently he was the Board Chair of Interior Health and also served as a Board Member of Canuck Place Children’s Hospice and Health Research BC.

Key highlights of his achievements include:

  • Establishing one of the first provincial reporting systems in Canada known as the BC Patient Safety Learning System designed to provide data for quality and safety reviews, reports and learning;
  • Developing the BC Health Quality Matrix, providing a framework for measuring and understanding quality;
  • Leading the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program to improve safety and effectiveness of surgical care;
  • Supporting the work of the BC Sepsis Network which over five years resulted moving BC from having the highest sepsis morbidity and mortality rates in Canada to the lowest, which prevented 1,150 people from acquiring or dying from sepsis and saved BC’s health care system $51 million;
  • Leading the Cochrane Review, which examined radiology practices following the discovery of preventable patient deaths which led to 35 recommendations to strengthen medical quality oversight and practices which the Ministry of Health has adopted and implemented;
  • Advancing reconciliation and Indigenous health and wellness along side many First Nations and Métis leaders from the Interior region; and
  • Leading work in countless other clinical areas including reducing inappropriate use of antipsychotics in long term care, stroke care, medication safety and more.

Thanks in large part to the work spearheaded by Dr. Cochrane, patient safety and quality have now become an intrinsic part of not only BC’s health care system, but across Canada. Practitioners now have tools, resources and protocols to investigate and learn when things go wrong, and patients and families have a voice in that process as well.

He will be sorely missed.

Quotes for Attribution:

Christina Krause, CEO, Health Quality BC

“Together, Doug and I had the opportunity to create the BC Patient Safety & Quality Council, now known as Health Quality BC, and his dedication and enthusiasm for improving health care in BC shaped our organization to what it is today. As a mentor and friend, I have had the opportunity to learn from, be inspired by his care, compassion and commitment to patient care.  His passion for a relentless pursuit of quality inspires us to honour his legacy is to keep doing this important work.”

Devin Harris, Chair, Health Quality BC

“Doug was a significant influence in my life and in all our lives in British Columbia. Personally, he was an extremely kind and thoughtful friend and mentor.  Professionally, he had a lasting impact on health care in BC and Canada – in patient safety, medical quality, physician leadership, and health equity.  As a clinician, he has changed the lives of so many children and families.  His calm and thoughtful presence and his warm smile will be tremendously missed. He leaves behind big (red) shoes to fill.”

Learn More:

Learn more about Doug Cochrane’s impact at HQBC: healthqualitybc.ca/blog/doug-cochrane/

Media Contact:
Hannah Lawrie, Director of Communications and Public Relations