A recent report issued by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), ‘Common Challenges, Shared Priorities,’ addresses the nationwide issue of hospital overcrowding. Individuals waiting for home care or long-term care occupy hospital beds they do not need, creating a “ripple effect” that impacts quality of care, according to the report. This issue has been on the radars of healthcare advocates and medical malpractice lawyers for years, particularly as the Canadian population ages. Few effective solutions have been proposed.

“Even though a person might be waiting for home care, that might have a ripple effect all the way down to waiting for emergency department services,” CIHI’s director of health system performance told the CBC.

CIHI researchers collected data on hospital patients waiting for home care, long-term care, or mental health and addictions services in every province and territory in 2017-2018. It found that one of every 12.7 patients is stuck in hospital awaiting home care services (help bathing, dressing wounds, etc.), and that nearly 28,000 patients are currently enduring extended hospital visits. Many are suffering complex illnesses such as dementia, diabetes with complications, and congestive heart failure. At least half are 82 or older.

For medical malpractice lawyers, this data suggests a higher-than-normal chance of medical errors being committed. Overcrowding creates a sub-optimal care environment where patients are treated in hallways and closets, and hospital staff are overworked and fatigued.

CIHI’s intention with the report is to create a clearer image of the state of hospital overcrowding and extended hospital visits in Canada.

“We are providing this information really as a baseline to see how we’re doing as a country and where we might need improvement and to help us track over time how we’re improving in these services,” Davidson explained.

However, the report doesn’t offer much in the way of solutions – at least not according to the CBC’s account.

“In some places, we have home-care workers in the hospitals who are there to learn about the patients and ensure that the services that they will need will be ready at the same time that they will be,” Davidson offered. She also suggested that engaged family and friends can help speed the transition to home care.

If you or a member of your family has been injured as a result of a hospital error, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers’ Medical Malpractice Group to learn how we can help. Our experienced team of medical malpractice lawyers can help you determine whether to initiate a claim.

Greg Neinstein