NEWS

Winnipeg hospital confirms death of 2nd man after release

01/10/2014 04:32 EST | Updated 03/12/2014 05:59 EDT
Winnipeg health officials say they are investigating the deaths of not one, but two men who were found outdoors after being sent home from the same hospital by taxi.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) confirmed Friday it is investigating a second death around the same time involving a man who had been discharged from Grace Hospital.

News of the case come after CBC News reported that 78-year-old David Silver died on his front porch after being sent home from Grace Hospital in a taxi on Dec. 31.

The WRHA said both men's cases meet the requirements for officials to launch critical incident investigations.

Silver was taken by ambulance to the hospital on Dec. 30 suffering from stomach pain, nausea and a headache.

His family told CBC News that doctors told him he had gallstones and kidney stones and the problem wasn’t serious enough for him to be admitted to the hospital.

At 1 a.m. on Dec. 31, they told Silver they were sending him home.

The senior was given a cab slip and sent home in his pyjamas and slippers, according to family members, even though the temperature at the time was –37 C without the wind chill.

On the way to his door, Silver collapsed and died. He wasn’t found until the next day, when his caregiver arrived to find him frozen in the snow.

His family said Silver didn’t die from freezing to death, but of a heart attack or some kind of a heart-related issue.

Man found on sidewalk

The WRHA says in the second case, a man was discharged from Grace Hospital and sent to a residence on Arlington Street.

Less than an hour later, a passerby called 911 after seeing a man lying on the sidewalk outside his home. He was pronounced dead.

The man, who had been in the hospital's emergency room for about 24 hours and was thoroughly examined, died of an underlying medical condition, according to the health authority.

The health authority did not release any details about the man, such as his name or age.

On Friday, Manitoba Health Minister Erin Selby said she wants to put the onus on taxi drivers to ensure patients being driven home by cab get inside their homes safely.

"I think it's clear that when a patient is discharged from hospital and returned by taxi that that should include making sure that patient gets through the front door safely," she told reporters.

Selby said Manitoba Health is drafting a protocol to be sent to all regional health authorities.

"People on the front line make the decision of what is the best way to discharge people ... in many cases it is a cab," she said.

"In the case somebody be discharged from a taxi, we are going to expect — and it will be mandatory — that the taxi cab driver ensure the person make it to the front door safely," she added.

"It's common sense to make sure that the person gets to the door in a safe manner."

The WRHA's current guidelines do not require cab drivers to escort patients to the door, but officials said cab drivers typically do watch for patients to get inside or help them.

On Friday, officials said they are looking into whether the WRHA's discharge policy should be changed for the period between November and April because of the cold winter weather.

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