Long wait times in emergency rooms lead to deaths and poor health outcomes across North America

Hospitals across Canada and the United States have experienced an alarming surge of respiratory viruses in infants, children and adults, primarily respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza and COVID-19. Hospitals in both countries have been operating at or above capacity for several months due to the “forever COVID” policy overseen by the Trudeau Liberal government in Canada and the Biden administration in the United States.

In this Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, photo, EMTs bring another patient into the emergency department in the critical care unit at the Asante Three Rivers Medical Center in Grants Pass, Oregon. [AP Photo/Mike Zacchino/KDRV via AP, Pool]

The rapid spread of the XBB.1.5 omicron subvariant across Canada and the United States is overwhelming an already overstretched health care system. Longer waiting times in emergency rooms (ERs) will increase the risk of death and other serious health care outcomes due to a shortage of beds and staff and an increase in boarding time (the total time required for patients to be treated in the ER). Hospital workers are exhausted and suffering from moral injury and are leaving in large numbers, which will only exacerbate the shortage of health care workers.

According to a Canadian CBC News report, ER deaths in the province of Nova Scotia are at a six-year high; 558 people will die in ER in 2022, 505 in 2021 and 393 in 2020.

The most recent death was of a 37-year-old woman who sought medical treatment for excruciating abdominal pain at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Center in Amherst, Nova Scotia. The patient, Allison Holthoff, waited six hours in a wheelchair or lying on the floor in the waiting room before being brought into the exam room. Her husband, Gunter Holthoff, told CBC News that at one point he told medical staff that his wife was not feeling well, and thought she was dying, but there was no response or action. After more time passed, nurses prepared Allison for X-rays, but she went into cardiac arrest before the latter could be tested. He was resuscitated three times but later died in the intensive care unit.

The day before Allison Holthoff died, Charlene Snow, 67, died after returning home after a seven-hour wait in the ER at Cape Breton Regional Hospital. Snow had been ill for several days with severe jaw pain and flu-like symptoms before seeking treatment, but went unnoticed. According to Global News, Snow suffered a cardiac arrest and died an hour after leaving the hospital.

According to the Annual Accountability Report, there were a total of 536,666 visits to emergency departments (EDs) in Nova Scotia in 2021-2022, and 43,142 patients (8.0 per cent) who visited EDs during the same period went without being seen by staff (LWBS). an ED. The EDs with the largest numbers of LWBS patients are South Shore Regional (15.0 percent) and Cape Breton Regional (14.8 percent), the hospital where Charlene Snow sought medical care.


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