The brother of a man who died in front of his home shortly after being released from a Winnipeg hospital is blaming the hospital, not taxi drivers, for his brother’s death.
John Miller’s brother, Wayne, had a major aneurysm and was signed up for palliative care the night before he died.
The 62-year-old was then released from Grace Hospital on Dec. 29 and driven by taxi to his home on Arlington Street.
Less than an hour later, a passerby called 911 after seeing a man unconscious on the sidewalk outside the home. Wayne Miller was dead before emergency crews arrived.
The incident happened within a day of another man, 78-year-old David Silver, being sent home from Grace Hospital in a taxi.
Silver did not make it inside and died on his front porch. Health officials says he died after a heart-related health complication.
Taxi drivers 'an extra set of eyes'
Manitoba Health Minister Erin Selby said the onus should be on taxi drivers to ensure discharged patients being driven home by cab get inside their homes safely.
"No one's expecting cab drivers to make medical decisions. It's up to doctors to determine whether or not somebody is safe and healthy enough to go home," she told reporters on Monday.
"All we are asking is to formalize what is already happening in many, many cases … just an extra pair of eyes on someone to make sure they make it through the front door."
Selby said she wants to detail the responsibility of taxi drivers in a new protocol, but she could not say in detail what she wanted the protocol to look like.
John Miller said the real issue is Manitoba hospitals discharging people who should not be sent home, and said a plan to make cab drivers responsible for safe delivery of their passengers is not addressing the real problem.
“I think it’s the most inane, asinine thing I’ve heard in my life,” he said.
Drivers 'not health-care aides,' says chairman
Some taxi drivers have already said they're being unfairly singled out, while Manitoba's Taxicab Board says putting the onus on drivers for patient safety raises questions about responsibility and liability.
Board chairman Bruce Buckley said the province currently has a curb-to-curb policy, and he wants to know who would enforce a door-to-door protocol.
"How do you protect them if somebody slips and falls, for example? They're not health-care aides, they are drivers. It's a lot of responsibility," Buckley said.
Members of the Taxicab Board met with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority on Monday to begin working on the new protocol.
The health authority is investigating both cases to determine if proper hospital discharge protocols were followed.
Health minister's statement
On Sunday, Manitoba Health Minister Erin Selby released a statement about the pair of incidents:
My deepest condolences to the families at this time. Families and patients need to know, when a hospital discharges someone, they're getting home safely.
Our focus right now is ensuring patients are discharged safety and that they get home safely.
The critical incident reviews will look at each case, and get answers to if proper discharge protocols were followed.
When decisions are being made about discharge, we expect that medical professionals are taking a patient's health, their physical and mental condition, and their support at home into consideration.
Making sure someone gets home safely when the decisions is made to discharge a patient will also be looked at.
The WRHA will be working with the taxi cab drivers to ensure cab drivers watch to make sure that patients they drive home, who are safely discharged, get inside their home. We'll be working to get this in place as soon as possible.