The Liberal Party of Ontario faced tough questions on overcrowding in the province’s hospitals during question period at Queen’s Park on October 31. Members of the NDP and Progressive Conservative parties demanded answers and improvements following a CBC Toronto report that caused widespread concern among patient advocates and hospital error lawyers.

“Between April 2016 to April 2017 there were 4,352 hallway patients at BCH [Brampton Civic Hospital] with significant lengths of stay ranging from 40 to nearly 70 hours,” read a July 20 note attained by the CBC and written by Joanne Flewelling, interim CEO of the William Osler Health System, of which BCH is a part.

“Hallway patients experience excessive noise and reduced privacy, which negatively affects their overall patient experience and quality of care, and may extend their overall length of stay,” the note continues.

Overcrowding is a major cause of concern to hospital error lawyers due to reductions in quality of care and increased risk of complications and infection.

The Liberals “do not grasp the severity of the overcrowding and hallway medicine crisis that is inside Ontario’s hospitals,” said NDP leader Andrea Horwarth on Halloween. “Why did the premier and the Liberal government allow this crisis in our hospitals to happen?”

The CBC’s report brought the overcrowding issue to politician’s attention, but professionals within the healthcare and legal communities, including hospital error lawyers, have been calling for action for years.

“Certainly the numbers are shocking, but those are Brampton’s numbers and we know that almost every hospital in Ontario has been running over capacity for some time now,” Vicki McKenna, vice president of the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA), told the CBC. “We’ve been talking to government and employers about over-capacity for over 10 years and the situation has only increased.”

“These people are in hospitals because they’re sick. They need hospital care; they need good nursing care,” McKenna added.

The Ontario Government has struggled to address hospital overcrowding in the rapidly growing – and aging – province. During question period, Health Minister Eric Hoskins reminded opposition members that his party has increased province-wide capacity by 1,000 inpatient beds and opened 600 transitional care spaces. He also touted recent initiatives to continue service at hospitals in Welland and Niagara, and the party’s pledge for a new hospital in Windsor. These measures have done little to reduce overcrowding, however, and with flu season on the horizon and a provincial election less than a year away, expect pressure on Premier Kathleen Wynne’s party to mount.

If you or a member of your family has suffered a negative outcome as a result of overcrowding in an Ontario medical facility, contact the hospital error lawyers at Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today. Our team can help you understand your legal rights and help you along your road to recovery.


Image credit: Dr. Nadia Alam (@DocSchmadia on Twitter)

Greg Neinstein