Man dies after waiting 16 hours in Quebec City hospital to see a doctor

The case of a patient who died after spending 16 hours in the emergency room of a Quebec hospital without being seen by a doctor has prompted doctors to denounce the conditions of the province’s health system.

The incident was brought to light by Dr Sebastien Marin, an emergency physician, who detailed the incident in several Twitter posts on Saturday.

According to Marin, the deceased patient – a man in his 70s – went to an unnamed hospital, but went home because no doctor was able to see him after 4 p.m.

His condition deteriorated, prompting him to seek treatment again, this time at another hospital. He chose to go to the Barrie Memorial in Ormstown, south of Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, where Marin works.

« When I saw it, I immediately thought of a section of the aorta, because it is known for that, » said Marin in an interview with Radio-Canada.

The man died about 10 minutes after arriving at the Barrie Memorial. Morin said that according to the man’s medical records, he had recently suffered an aneurysm.

« It’s a case that fell through the cracks of the system, » Marin said. « It’s a case that was still pretty clear, a case that was dangerous. »

CBC News was unable to confirm the name of the first hospital or Dr. Marin’s account, however, the province’s health department confirmed it was investigating.

« I see patients dying every day. That’s life, but he shouldn’t have died, » he added.

Emergency room overcrowding raises fears of the worst, doctor says

Dr. Gilbert Boucher, president of the Association of Emergency Medicine Specialists of Quebec (ASMUQ), says overcrowded emergency rooms put people at risk.

« We are always surprised by this kind of thing, » Boucher said, alluding to the patient’s death.

« We’re still hoping the triage system will ensure that we don’t overlook conditions like that, » he said. “Unfortunately, over the past five or six months, many patients have left without seeing a doctor. Our triage nurses are doing a great job, but they too are under pressure.

Boucher worries not only about the risks of forgetting a patient because their file has not been properly assessed, but also about the dangers of having to wait hours in the emergency room to receive care.

« We put caregivers in unbearable situations, » he said. « There are no beds. There are no stretchers. The waiting rooms are full. Decisions have to be made after three to five minute interviews… This is where it gets incredibly dangerous. »

A clear message has been sent to health network officials and the government, Boucher said.

« There are risks for the population, » he said.

« If this patient had been seen within a reasonable time, we are not saying he would have survived, but at least he would have had a chance. »

The CAQ touts its health plan

The Ministry of Health says it will request a detailed report from the first hospital.

In an email, a spokesperson for the Minister of Health, Christian Dubé, also welcomed the Coalition Avenir Québec’s plan for the health network.

She says the plan offers several solutions to improve the situation in emergency rooms, including with access to frontline care, hiring and developing more health professionals and adding capacity in other parts of the network, in an effort to ease pressure on emergencies.

But Marin says he has no hope.

« I believe in reform, but it will take time, » he said. « It has to be done right for it to work. »


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