Doctor's tweets raise concern over ER safety

A doctor's Twitter account tweets are raising some concerns about the Queen Elizabeth Hospital's emergency services.

Charlottetown emergency room faced overflow of admitted patients

Dr. Trevor Jain tweeted that one ER physician had resigned and another was considering leaving. (Twitter)

A doctor's Twitter account tweets are raising questions about emergency services at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown, P.E.I.

Dr. Trevor Jain tweeted Tuesday that a QEH emergency room physician had resigned over safety concerns.

Five hours later, Jain tweeted about a second doctor thinking of leaving for the same reason.

Jain declined to be interviewed by CBC News, but said he stands by his tweets.

Dr. Rosemary Henderson, the hospital's medical director, admits her emergency room doctors were concerned about their patient load.

But Henderson said she had to download extra patients on them because there was a shortage of doctors overseeing admitted patients in the hospital. One of the hospitalists — doctors who care for admitted patients who do not have a family physician — who would normally care for nine patients, was not available.

"That was a temporary situation, but it did cause considerable consternation in the emergency department," said Henderson.

Extra 4 to 6 patients

The overflow of patients had to go somewhere and the increased patient load raised safety concerns among her doctors.

"This creates problems in the emergency department in that physician's attention is then diverted from their emergency department population to the admitted patients. It creates a longer wait time for the emergency department patients," said Henderson.

The ER is supposed to be staffed by 10 full-time doctors and supplemented by contract doctors.

Between July and August, the ER was asked to take an extra four to six patients on seven occasions. In the past year, that number was usually one or two patients for up to two days, said Henderson.

The doctor who has resigned is a locum physician who had only six more shifts left in her contract. The doctor who threatened to resign is a part-time physician.

Hospital staff are trying to convince the two doctors to stay, said Henderson.

She added that the situation should be resolved next week when staffing returns to normal.