Healthcare | Health officials investigating patient death in Grace Hospital ER hallway – Winnipeg Free Press
The death of a patient who was being treated in a Grace Hospital emergency department hallway has sparked an internal safety review, as health officials work to determine whether the case should be classified as a critical incident.
The patient, who died early Saturday morning, had been triaged, assessed and was receiving care while awaiting transfer to an in-patient bed. They had been inside the emergency department for 33 hours, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said.
Health officials confirmed the death Monday, but provided little information about what led to the death, citing privacy legislation and a developing investigation.
“Our patient safety teams are looking into the matter and an initial review of the circumstances surrounding this event is underway over the next number of days to determine if this meets the criteria for a critical incident,” the WRHA said in an email.
Under provincial legislation, a critical incident describes any “unintended event that occurs when health services are provided to an individual and results in a consequence to him or her that is serious and undesired.”
It includes injuries, disabilities or deaths that do not result from an underlying health condition.
The health authority stressed that “anybody can report a potential patient safety event if they see something of concern within the health care system,” including staff, patients and family members. Reviewing such reports is standard procedure, and does not inherently mean the incident was critical, it said.
The review will include interviews with staff who were on shift over the weekend, in an effort to develop a clear picture of what may have led to the death, WRHA said.
Darlene Jackson, president of the Manitoba Nurses Union, said she was aware a patient died Saturday, but did not have further details about the circumstances.
“What I did hear is that the situation at the Grace this weekend was absolutely terrible. That there was just no way that the staff could possibly keep up with the number of patients,” she said by phone. “I think this is a terrible, terrible consequence of our critical nursing shortage and the workloads that nurses are working under.”
The median length of stay for admitted patients in the Grace ER in September was 24.67 hours, the WRHA said last week. In October, preliminary numbers show a jump to 33.65 hours.
On Tuesday afternoon, the health authority’s online service was reporting approximately 90 patients inside the hospital’s emergency department, with wait times estimated at nearly 11 hours. About half of those patients had not yet received an initial assessment from health-care staff.
The service does not track how many patients are awaiting transfers.
“These patients in the emergency departments, they need eyes on them. They need somebody who is able to go back, assess and reassess them,” Jackson said, adding she feels terrible for the family of the patient who died Saturday and for the staff who were on shift at the time.
“This is so distressing.”
Health Minister Uzoma Asagwara was alerted of the death over the weekend, and has already met with health officials to get briefed on the circumstances.
“I am very saddened to hear about this situation. We are ensuring that the family and staff are getting the supports they need during this difficult time,” Asagwara said by email.
“I directed my department to immediately put together an action plan. We are working on those details and will be sharing them with Manitobans in the next few days.”
WRHA said the patient safety review could take up to a week.
— with files from Katie May
Tyler Searle is a multimedia producer who writes for the Free Press’ city desk. Since joining the paper in 2022, he has found himself driving through blizzards, documenting protests and scouring the undersides of bridges for potential stories.
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