September 24, 2008

WRHA Implements New Patient Referral Protocol

Clinics to notify Emergency Department of all Referrals

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority is implementing a new protocol that will require all primary care clinics that are sending patients to an Emergency Department to notify the department in advance by phone.
The new protocol is being sent to all clinics directly operated by or funded by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

WRHA COO and Vice President of Community Health Services Milton Sussman said the new protocol is in direct response to the recent death of a patient who was referred to the Health Sciences Centre (HSC) for treatment but was not triaged upon arrival at the HSC Emergency Department. After spending 34 hours in the waiting room, the patient died, without ED staff being aware that he was there waiting for care.

"This very unfortunate tragedy uncovered a gap in our system and we are now taking steps to close that gap," Mr. Sussman said. "This is an important part of ensuring the patient gets the care she or he needs when they need it."

The death of the 45-year-old man has been declared a Critical Incident and is the subject of a review by a regional investigation team, as well as an administrative review. The Chief Medical Examiner has also been notified about the case.

A review of the staffing levels of the Emergency Department at the time of the incident revealed staffing levels during those shifts ranged between 87% and 97% and so this does not appear to have been a factor in this case.

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