Our UHN programs and services are among the most advanced in the world. We have grouped our physicians, staff, services and resources into 10 medical programs to meet the needs of our patients and help us make the most of our resources.
University Health Network is a health care and medical research organization in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The scope of research and complexity of cases at UHN has made us a national and international source for discovery, education and patient care.
Our 10 medical programs are spread across eight hospital sites – Princess Margaret, Toronto General, Toronto Rehab’s five sites, Toronto Western – as well as our education programs through the Michener Institute of Education at UHN. Learn more about the services, programs and amenities offered at each location.
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(L to R) Larisa, Vizma, Eric and Juliana Sprott
There’s a good chance that if you or a loved one requires a complex operation, you’ll end up at the Sprott Department of Surgery, the largest surgical program in Canada. The department spans 13 surgical divisions, from cardiovascular to neurosurgery to thoracic, across three University Health Network hospitals: Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital and Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.
Every day, doctors, nurses, scientists and others from different disciplines work together to tackle some of the world’s most complex surgeries and toughest medical problems. Sprott Surgery’s teams have developed groundbreaking technologies that are now used in hospitals everywhere, and they’ve developed surgical techniques that save countless lives.
As Dr. Shaf Keshavjee, Surgeon-in-Chief of the Sprott Department of Surgery, puts it: “At Sprott Surgery, we strive to transform surgical innovation, conduct world-leading research and offer life-saving surgical care.”
The Sprott Foundation’s ongoing support has helped transform surgery at UHN
In 1988, Eric and Vizma Sprott founded the Sprott Foundation, which focuses on food security and homelessness. In 2012, the Sprott Foundation gave one of its largest gifts – $25 million – to University Health Network’s department of surgery, which was then renamed the Sprott Department of Surgery. Since their first gift, the Sprott Foundation has donated more than $25 million of additional support to surgery at UHN. “We support organizations that are leaders in their field,” said Eric Sprott after his first donation. “Surgeons at UHN have, among other things, pioneered numerous heart and brain surgeries, and developed the Toronto Ex Vivo Lung Perfusion System. These innovations have gone on to save the lives of millions of patients around the world.” The gift has helped UHN hire and retain world-leading surgeons, and make new investments in best-in-class surgical technology, including robotic systems and organ repair innovations. Thanks to the Sprott Foundation’s generosity, the Sprott Department of Surgery is one of the top surgical departments in the world.
For 70 years, UHN’s surgeons have been performing life-saving operations, conducting industry-leading research and developing world-class technologies
23,344:Surgeries performed between April 2019 and March 2020 by the Sprott Department of Surgery
12,370: Surgeries performed at Toronto Western Hospital9,122: Surgeries performed at Toronto General Hospital1,852: Surgeries performed at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre
140+:Surgeons who work at the Sprott Department of Surgery
12,333:Endoscopic procedures performed by Sprott surgeons between April 2019 and March 2020
2,055:Cardiovascular and vascular surgeries performed in 2019
376:Robotic surgeries performed by Sprott surgeons between April 2019 and March 2020
831:Number of transplants between April 2019 and March 2020
Just a few of UHN’s many major surgical and surgery-related innovations
1921Discovery and first clinical use of insulin at Toronto General by Dr. Frederick Banting – a general surgeon at Toronto General – and Dr. Charles Best
1950World’s first external heart pacemaker used in an open-heart resuscitation
1983World’s first successful single-lung transplant
1989World’s first heart valve-sparing aortic root replacement, known as the “David Operation”
World’s first awake outpatient craniotomy for brain tumour removal
2003World’s first use of deep brain stimulation to treat drug-resistant depression
2008World’s first lung transplant using the Ex Vivo Lung Perfusion System
2016Canada’s first upper limb transplant (forearm and hand)
2020Canada’s first robotic-assisted nipple-sparing mastectomy
By Bryan Borzykowski
UHN’s safety and quality program ensures patients get the best care possible
Dr. Carol-Anne Moulton (L) and Dr. Tim Jackson (R) lead UHN’s safety and quality benchmarking program.
Every day at around 7 a.m., a small group of nurses and anesthesiologists gather in front of the operating room to talk about how to make the day’s surgeries go smoothly. They then regroup later to debrief on what went right – and wrong. The idea is to ensure that all the things that went well are repeated in the future, while the things that didn’t go as smoothly are acknowledged and improved upon.
It’s all part of the Sprott Department of Surgery’s quality and patient safety benchmarking program, which University Health Network (UHN) began putting in place in 2010. Until then, there was no way of knowing whether patients received better outcomes at UHN than they did at other medical centres or whether the institution’s rates of infections or deaths were too high.
That wasn’t right, says Dr. Tim Jackson, Operating Room Medical Director at Toronto Western Hospital, general surgeon in the Sprott Department of Surgery, and the Medtronic Chair in Minimally Invasive Surgery. “You need to measure quality,” explains Dr. Jackson, who helped create the quality improvement program that UHN now follows. “It’s good for patients – it reduces complications – and it’s good for surgeons, who can get data on their performance and then think about how they can do better.”
More efficient operators
Over the past several years, Dr. Jackson and Dr. Carol-Anne Moulton, Operating Room Medical Director at Toronto General Hospital and Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, and a general surgeon in the Sprott Department of Surgery, have, along with others, measured a variety of surgical-related processes and procedures, from how many times doctors wash their hands to whether blood transfusions are done properly. As part of the program, every death or surgery-related complication gets discussed. “Everything is reviewed, and we look at whether we could have done anything differently,” explains Dr. Moulton.
There are several goals: to give patients the best care possible, but also to make sure doctors are doing their jobs efficiently and cost effectively, while still putting safety first, says Dr. Moulton.
UHN wants to make sure it’s keeping up with other top hospitals, too. It participates in four North America-wide programs, including the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program, in which results on more than 80 measures are entered into a database and then compared against hundreds of other institutions.
The program has helped Sprott Surgery dramatically reduced its rate of infection, for instance, while UHN is doing as expected or better than expected on a number of measures.
One reason so much progress has been made, and why Drs. Jackson and Moulton are confident they can continue raising the quality of Sprott Surgery’s work even further, is because of UHN’s culture: everyone wants to improve. “All of us want to know how we can better our own craft,” says Dr. Jackson. “That’s exciting to see – how energized people get by looking at these reports.”
Canada’s healthcare sector is responsible for nearly five per cent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. The Sprott Department of Surgery wants to cut that down. Led by thoracic surgeon Dr. Laura Donahoe, it’s taking steps to reduce waste and contribute positively to climate change. Here’s how:
Glass recyclingGlass medication bottles used to be incinerated. There’s now a recycling bin in every OR.
Blue wrap reuseSterile tray wrap used to be thrown out. It’s now reused – to cover items during moving and more.
Recycling copper wiresCautery cords, which contain copper, are sent to a scrap metal dealer, who recycles the product.
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