The Yukon Hospital Corporation says it is taking steps to improve patient safety in the wake of the deaths of two women last summer.

Both women died after treatment at the old Watson Lake Hospital.

Chief Coroner Kirsten Macdonald has made several recommendations to the hospital corporation to improve patient care and prevent similar deaths.

"The coroner found that 47-year-old Teresa Ann Scheunert died in Watson Lake Hospital from an overdose of various painkillers," said Macdonald.

Scheunert was being treated for back pain.

Mary Johnny, 60, died in the Whitehorse General Hospital due to multi-organ failure from a bowel obstruction after being medevaced from Watson Lake, where doctors misdiagnosed her with alcohol withdrawal.

Yukon Health Minister Doug Graham says he's concerned about the report, but he said he has full confidence in the Yukon Hospital Corporation to address any deficiencies in patient care.

Graham said the reports are directed to the corporation, which operates at arm’s length from the government.

"I have read both reports and you know we, we're very concerned any time we get a list of recommendations such as this and we take the issue very seriously... We'll be asking the hospital corporation for a report on how they hope to deal or how they will be dealing with the recommendations regarding the system in place in Yukon hospitals," he said.

Hospital corp. doing independent patient safety review

Hospital corporation spokesperson Val Pike said they are already working to ensure better patient safety.

"We did not wait for the findings of the chief coroner to act on opportunities for improvement and we are taking steps to improve service to patients. And the hospital corporation is in the process of completing an independent patient safety review," said Pike.

NDP health critic Jan Stick spoke out last week on what she called senior health officials' silence in these deaths.

Pike said the corporation did not intentionally keep a low profile, and promised more information will be forthcoming.

The new hospital in Watson Lake is set to open this week.

The Yukon Medical Association is not commenting on the cases at this time. The association’s president, Dr. Rao Tadepalli, said in an e-mail that as both cases are subject to further investigations and complaints, they’re unable to comment.

The hospital corporation is not yet releasing details on what changes they have made since the deaths.