When a patient enters a hospital in Ontario, they are entitled to a certain standard of care. Unfortunately, funding issues, growing cities, and an aging population have created a widespread overcrowding crisis that has medical malpractice lawyers concerned.
This month, CBC News published an article describing an evening in Brampton Civic Hospital’s emergency department. The department is one of the busiest in Ontario, thanks in part to the city’s unrelenting growth: between 2011 and 2016, Brampton’s population increased 13 per cent and patient volume at Brampton Civic ED increased 32 per cent. As a result, the department’s staff are under enormous pressure and patients are often treated in imperfect settings. The CBC called Brampton Civic “a case study for the problems facing many hospitals across Ontario: bed shortages, jam-packed emergency rooms, and a constant backlog that’s concerning for both staff and patients.”
Overcrowding puts patients at risk. While Ontario’s doctors do all they can to provide adequate care, overcrowding makes it less likely that patients will be diagnosed accurately and on time and more likely that they will receive treatment too late. Treatment in hallways and supply closets also increases the risk of contracting dangerous infections.
In February, Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas, the provincial NDP’s health critic, told the legislative assembly at Queen’s Park about her friend and neighbour Leo Seguin who for 10 days was treated in the bathroom of a hospital in Sudbury. Seguin is in his 70s.
“[The staff] called it the spa,” Seguin told the CBC. “There was a shower, then there was a vanity in between with a mirror. Then there was a bathtub with a shower in there too. And then at the end of my bed, there was the toilet, where my head was.”
Though Seguin insists that the hospital’s staff provided excellent care, the unorthodox lodging could easily have put him at risk of infection. Had that infection been serious, he may have had grounds to launch a personal injury claim with the help of medical malpractice lawyers.
Hospital overcrowding is a province-wide concern. The hospital where Seguin was treated has maintained an average occupancy rate of 116 per cent since January, and in 2016 and 2017 over 4,000 patients were treated in the hallways of Brampton Civic Hospital, according to a CBC report.
Ontario’s doctors work tirelessly to provide for their patients, often under difficult circumstances. However, when they are unable to offer adequate care, it is the job of medical malpractice lawyers to ensure that injured patients have access to compensation that assists their recovery.
If you or a member of your family have suffered an injury during a stay at an Ontario hospital, contact the medical malpractice lawyers at Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to learn how our team can help.
Imaged credit: U.S. Army photo by Reese Brown