Manitoba patient died after going to a closed ER and being turned away: critical incident report

A new report from Manitoba Health that looks at critical incidents in the health-care system shows 35 instances where people died while receiving care, one of which saw a person die after an emergency department was closed and they were turned away.

The report was from the beginning of October to the end of December 2020 and highlighted all serious incidents.

One case in the report shows an individual was taken to a health-care facility but the emergency department was closed. The person was then taken to the next closest facility but they died.

The report does not name which facility the incident occurred.

Darlene Jackson, the president of the Manitoba Nurses Union, said hearing of situations like this is tragic.

“It is a reality that we’re seeing now and I think it’s a reality we are going to see more and more in the future,” said Jackson. “I believe we are going to see more and more emergency rooms closed or beyond diversion in the rural areas and that is all due to the nursing shortage.”

She said it is really unfair that this happening to rural Manitobans.

Jackson said one of the biggest concerns for her is people may not know if an emergency department is open or not.

She added having scheduled closures that people are aware of is one, but the short notice closures could pose a significant problem.

“How do you communicate that to your community…so they aren’t driving 20 minutes in one direction to a hospital that is closed and then turning around and then going 40 minutes in the same direction to a hospital that is open?”

She said the recent storms and extensive overland flooding can cause added problems such as closed roads that might lengthen someone’s trip to the hospital.

A spokesperson for the province said critical incident reports are done so that health-care providers can look at what can be done differently and what improvements need to be made.

“This formal process is a way to examine the system more broadly, consider what may contribute to incidents when they happen and look at how to make changes to prevent their recurrence,” the spokesperson said.

They added critical incident reports do not take place for other investigations.

Jackson said one thing the province needs to work on is addressing the nursing shortage as well as proper communication for communities when there are closures.

From the data gathered by the province, 26 of the 35 deaths mentioned said residents developed a health-care acquired infection associated with a serious outcome.

The province does note at the top of the report that critical incidents related to COVID-19 outbreaks were reported as groups.

The report can be viewed here. 

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