Questions raised after woman’s death at Jewish General Hospital emergency room

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Woman’s death at Jewish General Hospital’s emergency room raises concerns
WATCH: A woman recently died at the Jewish General Hospital's ER and now health-care workers and patient-rights advocates are speaking out. They say it could be just another indication of the current crisis and ongoing strain on the healthcare system. Global's Phil Carpenter reports. – Dec 6, 2022

According to Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital staff who spoke to Global News on condition of anonymity, on Nov. 26th an elderly woman died in the emergency room when she shouldn’t have.

The death is prompting questions from health-care advocates.

“Was she taken care of adequately as she should’ve been?” wondered patients rights advocate Paul G. Brunet.

According to information obtained by Global News, at around 1 p.m., an 84 year-old woman arrived at the hospital via ambulance with flu-like symptoms.

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Staff said she was assessed as level 3 emergency, given 4 litres of oxygen and placed on a stretcher in a corridor.

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At around 3 p.m. the woman was discovered unresponsive, and 15 minutes later she was declared dead.

Staff who spoke to Global News insisted that given her condition, she should’ve been assigned a bed and been better monitored, thereby possibly preventing her death.

The employees blame a severe lack of beds and staff in the ER and the hospital.

Quebec hospitals and ERs have been overwhelmed since the pandemic, but medical law attorney Patrick Martin-Ménard believes steps can be taken when there are staff challenges in any emergency room.

“The system needs to be reorganized in a way as to ensure that the people who require urgent care will get it and the people who require monitoring will be properly monitored,” he told Global News.

Still, others like Brunet argue that the strain on emergency rooms could be lessened if more seniors got the health care they need where they live.

“If she was treated adequately at home by nurses by doctor, like we’ve been asking the government to authorize, maybe she wouldn’t have to be transported to the hospital in the first place,” he said.

The province is taking measures to help ease the pressure on emergency rooms.

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That’s too late for some patients, though, say some critics.

Fo Niemi, head of the civil rights group, Center for Research-Action on Race Relations, said that a family contacted his organization about one other death at another hospital, under similar circumstances.

“There was another senior citizen who went there, to the ER,” he said, “and apparently did not receive the proper care and died when, obviously or apparently, they should not have died.”

The Quebec coroner’s office is examining the death at the Jewish General Hospital to see if an investigation is warranted.

The hospital refuses to comment, citing privacy.

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