POLITICS

Hospital overcrowding has 'tragic consequences' for patients: Saskatchewan NDP

05/11/2015 04:28 EDT | Updated 05/11/2016 05:59 EDT
REGINA - The family of a woman who was sent home from hospital and died from a bleeding brain says Saskatchewan's health care is broken.

Theresa Surbey Blair said her parents were brought to a Saskatoon hospital's emergency department after a car accident last June. Her mother, Dolores Surbey, 84, was examined but was released after a few hours without being admitted.

"We can't help but feel that if the system was healthy and functioning properly, my mom would be here today," Surbey Blair said Monday. "Even if the outcome had remained the same, if she'd been cared for in a caring and procedurally correct way ... we would not be left with so many unanswered questions."

Surbey Blair said her mother received poor care, and later suffered a brain bleed that would lead to her death three days after the accident.

Opposition NDP Leader Cam Broten, who raised the case in Monday's question period, said hospital overcrowding is having "tragic consequences."

"When we have story after story of patients coming forward ... where patients are treated like they are on an assembly line, where there aren't the beds available to do observation and to ensure the right care is provided, that also ties the hands of the health-care professionals," he said.

Surbey Blair said the doctor ordered X-rays for her mother and offered her a CT scan, which she declined. The doctor had told the family a scan wasn't medically necessary, Surbey Blair said.

"They had already been sitting there six hours in chairs, and they were very anxious to get home ... to be comfortable. If we had chosen to stay for the CT scan, we would have been there another five hours, which would have been 12 hours sitting in chairs after a car accident.

"The system did not help the doctor that had to care for my parents. Poor decisions were made."

Surbey Blair said it's possible the brain bleed wouldn't have been visible on a scan, but she feels steps were missed.

Health Minister Dustin Duncan said the health region is reviewing the case.

"It wasn't deemed to be a critical incident at the time, so we are looking at more information as to why that decision was made," he said. "At this point, there isn't an indication from the region that overcapacity was a factor in this case."

The province acknowledges that wait times in emergency departments need to be reduced, Duncan said.

"It's something that we are focused on."