“She fell into my arms”: a woman dies in the Joliette emergency room after 17 hours of waiting without seeing a doctor

A 73-year-old woman died of an aneurysm in the emergency toilet of Joliette hospital last summer, after waiting 17 hours without ever seeing a doctor.

“I went to help her, then she fell into my arms,” remembers Anne-Marie Boisclair, aged 75, who believes that her sister could still be alive if she had been treated that day . The two women were “always together” until that fateful night, she confides.

Her sister France Boisclair, aged 73, and she had gone to the emergency room of the Lanaudière hospital center in Saint-Charles-Borromée just before 3 p.m., on August 11, 2023. She had pain in her foot, but it was also following “five recent episodes of syncope with severe headache and dizziness,” according to the recently released coroner’s report.

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High pressure

Despite high blood pressure of 218/78 at triage, she received a code 4, meaning non-urgent.

She then spent the entire night in the emergency room, waiting for 17 hours, without ever seeing a doctor.

This is why coroner André Cantin requested that the quality of care provided to Mme Boisclair be revised, in its report.

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He questions whether the medical approach was “adequate”, given the patient’s high blood pressure, casting doubt not only on the priority code that had been given, but also the long delay in treatment.

“It is not within the mandate of the coroner to examine the conduct or competence of a person involved in the care provided […] I cannot know whether the symptoms and signs presented by Mme Boisclair were well taken into consideration nor if it was thought that they could be compatible with other conditions that could represent a danger to his health or his life,” he writes.

Crowded emergency

That night, the emergency room was crowded and very few waiting patients were called, says Anne-Marie Boisclair.

“If she hadn’t died, how long would we have waited?” she asks herself. Because her sister was finally seen by two doctors, after 17 hours of waiting, when they tried to resuscitate her, without success.

Following this death, the CISSS de Lanaudière responded that it had put in place several measures, such as training nurses in triage and emergency beneficiary attendants. Work is planned for the spring to renovate the bathroom area.

In the past year, at least three patients have died in the emergency room of the Anna-Laberge hospital in Châteauguay, the most recent of which last February. A nurse was also recently disbarred for being negligent in the care provided to a patient who died at Lakeshore Hospital in Pointe-Claire.

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