A Quebec hospital is investigating the death of a diabetic man who died while sitting in a wheelchair in the waiting room at a Montreal emergency department.
André Desjardins, 64, went to the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital on Sept. 30 by ambulance after complaining of severe pain.
He already suffered from high blood pressure and was a heavy smoker, in addition to having diabetes.
A doctor at the hospital saw him but Desjardins was sent back to the waiting area.
As his pain worsened, family members pleaded with staff to let him lie down on a stretcher, but none was provided.
Instead, hospital staff put him in a wheelchair, where he spent an estimated seven hours waiting for futher care before he died, said his relatives.
Making anyone in a medical crisis wait for care in an ER makes no sense at all, and reflects Quebec's chronic problem with emergency care, said patients' rights advocate Paul Brunet.
"We had the ultimate failure of the system with the death of this guy. We shouldn't have to wait in an emergency ward. We should stop accepting that," said Brunet, who heads Quebec's Conseil de protection des malades.
"Evidently that patient was gravely ill, and certainly should have been taken care of more seriously than he was."
The hospital has apologized to Desjardins' family but won't comment further until its internal investigation is complete.
Quebec Health Minister Yves Bolduc said Tuesday that Desjardins' death is unacceptable and regrettable, but denied that it had anything to do with the hospital operating at over-capacity.
It's not the first time a patient has died waiting in the Maisonneuve-Rosemont ER.
Last February, an elderly woman suffering from Alzheimer's disease died after waiting two hours on a stretcher in the Maisonneuve-Rosemont ER. Later reports found the hospital's emergency ward was operating at 200 per cent capacity that day.