B.C. doctors expose emergency room horror stories
Andrew Weichel, CTV British Columbia
Published Thursday, March 7, 2013 5:48PM PST
Last Updated Thursday, March 7, 2013 7:41PM PST
A group of B.C. doctors are sharing their personal emergency room horror stories to shine a light on overcrowding and other problems plaguing public health care in the province.
Eleven physicians have submitted video testimonies to the B.C. Emergency Care website, and their accounts paint a shocking picture of long waits, patient frustration and even unnecessary medical complications.
Dr. David Rhine from Kelowna General Hospital tells of a 102-year-old woman who was admitted on Dec. 17, but had to wait 10 hours for care.
“She had waited in pain following a tumble in her home. She had injured her back and ultimately we discovered he had a compression fracture of her lumbar spine,” Rhine said.
“She waited 10 hours to get any kind of medication or assessment. I felt terrible about that.”
At Richmond Hospital, Dr. Steve Fedder recounted a night when the emergency department had exceeded full capacity, and several patients were examined in the waiting room without privacy.
“The worst part of the shift was midway through when a 70-year-old gentleman who had presented with chest pain and was waiting for a bed, but none were available, had a cardiac arrest,” Fedder said.
“The nurses and doctors stepped in and started resuscitation efforts. The patient was laid on the floor in the emergency department waiting room, and CPR was initiated, and electrical shocks were given to the heart. We were very lucky the patient’s heart was restarted.”
The physicians say the suffering caused by long delays could be avoided if the government would hire more doctors and invest more resources into health care.
B.C. Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid said she understands the doctors’ motivation in publicizing their stories, but said the province is taking a different approach to clearing hospital backlogs.
MacDiarmid said remedies include transferring patients to other departments immediately, or convincing them to avoid going to the emergency room in the first place.
“[Promoting] family doctors and working better in the primary care system, integrating with homecare nurses and with pharmacists and other providers, that can keep people out of the emergency department,” MacDiarmid said.
She said the doctors’ concerns amount to a call for more funding, and “that’s very difficult for us.”
The government has negotiated a $90-million physician master agreement with the B.C. Medical Association, and MacDiarmid said she hopes doctors can use part of that funding to address their concerns.
With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Kent Molgat