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Langley, B.C., isn’t the only hospital with long delays for emergency patients, doctors warn

Some are waiting as long as 48 hours, co-president of the Section of Emergency Medicine estimates
A Ministry of Health photo of the Langley Memorial Hospital Emergency Department, which is suffering major delays. Dr. Gord McInnes, co-president of the Section of Emergency Medicine, said Wednesday, May 10, that Langley is not the only hospital suffering patient back-ups. (file)

It’s not just Langley.

On Wednesday, May 10, Dr. Gord McInnes, co-president of the Section of Emergency Medicine, said the crisis at Langley Memorial Hospital, which is suffering large delays in treating patients at the hospital’s Emergency Department, is happening across the province.

His statement came a day after Dr. Mitra Maharaj, site medical director at Langley Memorial Hospital (LMH), responded to reports that doctors at the Langley Division of Family Practice were being advised to direct patients to other hospitals by confirming a shortage of doctors had created “significantly increased” wait times.

“Our emergency departments are on red alert,” said Dr. McInnes. “Our patients are suffering, and the doctors struggling to provide their care are tired and distressed. Our patients need and deserve better. They deserve to know that they will be safe, and that they will be cared for when they go to an emergency department for help. The dire situation we are facing now cannot continue.”

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A statement from the section said too many patients, including those with serious medical conditions, are being warehoused in emergency rooms for 24 to 48 hours before moving out of the emergency department and into a bed on the appropriate ward, while their conditions worsen.

It reported patients are waiting upwards of 8 hours to see a doctor, so that by the time they receive care, their condition has seriously declined.

“We need the provincial government to work with us on real solutions to relieve the pressures in our hospitals, which are the root of the problems in our EDs,” said Dr. McInnes. “Solutions will need to address some of the biggest challenges, among them the need for more beds to build capacity, and to address the shortage of health care staff.”

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First and foremost, he said, health authorities must empower physicians and nurses to call “code orange” – a protocol that ensures patients are immediately moved into other areas of the hospital when the ED reaches critical limits for admitted patients.

“This will give us the space to assess, diagnose, and initiate treatment to patients still coming into our emergency department.”

And, “we need a process that would switch acutely ill patients in the emergency department who are waiting for a bed on a specialty nursing ward with a recovered patient in that ward waiting to be discharged. This would mean that those needing the most urgent attention can get it, and those who need monitoring as they wait to be discharged will also be attended to.”

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Dan Ferguson

About the Author: Dan Ferguson

Best recognized for my resemblance to St. Nick, I’m the guy you’ll often see out at community events and happenings around town.
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