September 26, 2008 at 8:18 pm

Jan, you’ve no doubt heard of triage by now. Manitoba has also recently come out with new guidelines regarding the use of emergency treatment rooms. The procedure is: the family doctor must make all recommendations.

The man that died in the Health Sciences Center in Winnipeg had a letter from his doctor stating that he needed immediate attention by a specialist because of his condition. He was not seen as requiring emergency treatment by the center staff, so he was left to sit in the waiting room, his condition worsening until he died there. The only recommendations that have come forth from this tragedy was that from now on the doctor or their receptionist must phone the HSC when they are sending a patient to them for crisis care. You’d think that the letter itself would have been enough, but obviously it wasn’t dealt with properly by the staff, because this man is dead. The same thing happened in Brandon not so long ago. That time it was a man with a heart condition, who died after waiting many hours in the waiting room.

Nevertheless, the emergency room rules have tightened, with no guarantee that a doctor will even see you there. They are only authorized to treat the cases in triage: immediately life-threatening and only within their guidelines. Cases such as meningitis would go through the cracks in the present system, many others too. And if and when you get to see the doctor there, they will just send you back to your family doctor, because he is the one who makes all referrals for specialized care and testing. I experienced this myself before, even with a doctor’s referral for asthma.

(As well, I don’t have transportation, except for my medical walker, and Wpg is many hundreds of miles away; my sister is a nurse and works in Wpg, but even she knows almost nothing about GBS, and couldn’t help me. She told me they only get the immediately life-threatening acute cases there, who are referred to a neurologist. She told me to go back to my doctor, but when I did he said and did nothing, though he took notes.)
— Donna