November 27, 2017 8:31 pm

Ottawa Hospital apologizes after patient told to lie on ER floor, former nurse calls it ‘demeaning’

The Canadian Press Images/Francis Vachon file
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The Ottawa Hospital has apologized after a staff member told a patient who was in pain last week to lie on the emergency room floor when he asked for a place to rest.

READ MORE: New Westminster woman dies in Fraser Health emergency room while waiting for treatment

According to the Ottawa Citizen, on Nov. 20, a patient was in the emergency room for four hours after he fell on ice and hurt his back. He was crying in pain and vomiting and asked a staff member if he could lie down, according to the report.

The staff member then pointed to a “dirty, high-traffic spot on the floor in response to the plea,” according to the Ottawa Citizen.

A woman who was in the emergency room at the time argued the man needed help.

WATCH: Discussions begin on patient care and overcapacity at Canadian hospitals


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“I have been a nurse. You don’t put a patient on a floor… ‘Get him a stretcher,’” she told the Ottawa Citizen.

The patient, who has not been identified, was finally given a stretcher.

Global News made repeated attempts for comment from the Ottawa Hospital but did not hear back at the time of publication.

In response to the incident, the Ottawa Hospital released an apology on Friday.

READ MORE: WRHA issues apology to family of woman who died after waiting on ER floor

“We apologize for any misunderstanding or distress. We have also reached out to the patient to offer that apology, to explain that it was a busy night in our emergency department and that we regret the moment in which this incident took place.

“Our staff, including the staff member in question, take great care to manage the impacts of high occupancy and other pressures on patients. This moment is an opportunity to learn and improve for all,” the statement to the Ottawa Citizen read.

WATCH: Winnipeg continues to have Canada’s worst ER wait times

Former nurse Bonnie MacDonald-Belisle, who lives in Ottawa but was not at the hospital at the time of this incident, is calling the situation “disgusting.” MacDonald-Belisle, who is also a caregiver and social service worker, said when she heard about the incident, she was very upset.

“When people are told to ‘lay on the floor of a dirty emergency room,’ well that is… disgusting, demeaning and humiliating,” she said.

She said during her time working as a nurse, she has never heard of a staff member telling someone to lie on the floor.

READ MORE: Inquest starts in doorstep death of ER patient dropped off by taxi

“My professional and personal life motto have always been to treat everyone with dignity and respect,” she said. “If it were me there, I would have found the least sick person, put them in a wheelchair, changed the sheets on a stretcher and have the patient lie down.”

She acknowledges that many nurses, doctors and technicians are burnt out, but said it’s still no excuse to treat someone that way.

Overcrowding in Canadian hospitals

The problem of overcrowding in Canadian hospitals is nothing new.

According to a 2017 Canadian Institutes for Health Information (CIHI) report, Canadians are reporting some of the longest wait times for medical help compared to 11 other countries including the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and France.

READ MORE: What will help doctors improve their patient care?

In March, a 73-year-old woman died at a British Columbia hospital after she spent hours in the emergency room waiting for treatment and a bed to open up.

WATCH: Senior dies in wheelchair while waiting in Fraser Health emergency

In October 2015, a 57-year-old woman died from a brain aneurysm while lying in pain on a hospital floor in Winnipeg. The woman was unable to sit up from the pain in her head and the staff did not help her.

Months later, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority sent out an apology and said it was reviewing its practices.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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