Overcrowding at a Saskatoon hospital may have led to patient’s death

SASKATOON – Overcrowding at a Saskatoon hospital may have led to a patient’s death. 

The news comes as Saskatoon Health Region acknowledged patients are being left in hallways at Royal University and St. Paul’s hospitals as they deal with high patient volumes. 

Global News has received reports that a 49-year-old female patient unexpectedly passed away on Jan. 13 at Royal University Hospital. At the time, she was said to be in a make-shift unit because of the hospital’s capacity issues. 

Officials are refusing to comment directly on the unexpected death of the woman in their care. 

“We have had several or a few critical incidents which is unfortunately not usual,” said Sandra Blevins, vice president of integrated health services for the Saskatoon Health Region, in a exclusive with Global News. 

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“A critical incident is defined as when death or harm is caused that is not anticipated or planned and it could be related to a number of causes.” 

Blevins went on to state nothing has been directly attributed to overcapacity, but all critical incidents occurred in overcapacity. 

“Over the past four weeks, we have seen significant pressure on our hospitals, along with our staff and physicians,” said Blevins. 

According to the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses, the extreme working conditions are taking a toll on care providers, both physically and mentally. 

The region said there are a number of factors behind capacity issues including norovirus outbreaks and increased illnesses in the community. 

Blevins said measures have been put in place to deal with the demands, including placing patients in hallways. 

“What we’ve been left with over the last four weeks is at times we have had to place people into hallways and that’s not ideal,” said Blevins. 

“We know this is hard on them as well as our staff and physicians. We are only taking this type of action when it’s a last resort to ensure people are receiving the care they need and being moved out of emergency.” 

Another option being looked at is moving patients to smaller hospitals outside of Saskatoon. 

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Long-term care facilities are also being impacted, with all facilities currently full and 63 people on a waiting list. 

Solutions including the possibility of some long-term care patients could be sent home with additional support from home care until a space opens up for them.


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