Healthcare professionals work tirelessly to provide effective, compassionate care to their patients. It’s a tough job: we rely on doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and hospital workers to protect us at the most vulnerable moments of our lives, including during childbirth and in old age. In recent years, funding deficits and an aging population have contributed to widespread overcrowding in Ontario’s hospitals, which has made it more difficult for medical professionals to deliver high-quality care, and at times necessitated the involvement of Ontario hospital error lawyers.

Over the final weeks of August, hospitals around Ontario experienced a sudden surge in the number of very ill or premature babies they admitted, emphasizing the risks posed by overcrowding. Spokespeople for the provincial Ministry of Health told the Toronto Star that while the situation is unusual and “has not been previously encountered,” there is “no public health issue at hand causing more babies to require care.” In other words, this scenario can occur again.

The increase in sick babies has affected three Toronto hospitals that house top-level Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) – Mount Sinai, Sunnybrook, and SickKids – most acutely.

“There’s no space for the equipment, there’s no space for the families,” Dr. Estelle Gauda, head of SickKids’ neonatology division, told the Toronto Star. “There’s just nowhere to breathe.”

“(The NICU) is overcrowded,” she continued. “It’s not up to standard with respect to space around babies, as well as allowing the best environment that we can create to decrease the state of families.”

The Star visited a room in SickKids’ neonatology unit hosting six pre-term babies; a baby per room is standard. Crowding at lower-level nurseries means that even when a baby is healthy enough to be moved from the NICU, this may not be an option. The scenario mirrors that of Ontario’s oldest patients, who may not require acute care but occupy hospital beds as they wait for room at long-term care facilities.

“The truth of the matter is that, at present, many hospitals are dealing with unusually high patient volumes,” said the Ontario Hospital Association’s president, Anthony Dale. “The hospital sector is under significant stress and there is very little capacity left in the system to deal with new or unanticipated surges in patient volume.”

Ontario hospital error lawyers understand that patients in overcrowded hospitals are more likely to encounter violence, acquire infections, or suffer injuries due to the negligence or inattention of medical professionals who are exhausted, stressed, and overloaded.

If you or a member of your family has experienced an injury as a result of medical malpractice, contact the Ontario hospital error lawyers at Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today. Our team can help you access compensation for your injuries.


Photo credit: Jaap Vermeulen/Wikimedia Commons

Greg Neinstein