A daughter contacted Patient Ombudsman to complain about her father’s care in a hospital emergency department. The daughter described bringing her father to the hospital. Because of respiratory distress and weakness, he was unable to walk safely from the car to the emergency department. When she requested a wheelchair, she was told to find one herself. Her father waited alone in the car while she found one.
After being admitted to the hospital he was placed on a chair in the hallway for several days because of overcrowding. While her father waited for a bed, the family was told that he was actively dying. During this time, both his intravenous bag and his oxygen tank ran dry. Another relative, who is a physician, found the father was in acute distress.
Following Patient Ombudsman’s review, the hospital issued a formal apology to the complainant and her family.
The hospital has since purchased 50 additional wheelchairs for the emergency department. Now, both volunteers and non-clinical staff retrieve wheelchairs to ensure that there are always wheelchairs available in the emergency department.
The hospital revised their procedure so that patients needing continuous oxygen support will not be placed in the hallway to wait for a bed.
The hospital will be opening a new and enlarged emergency department that it hopes will address privacy issues identified by the family.
Patient Ombudsman also helped the family refer a complaint to the College of Nurses of Ontario to address and review why the nursing team did not notice the patient’s state of physical distress.