A Toronto-area family wants to know why their 89-year-old father was discharged from hospital and an ambulance service left him alone at the wrong residence.

Tadeusz Czubak had knee replacement surgery on Friday at Trillium Health Centre in Mississauga and was discharged on Monday.

The next day, he developed complications and was taken to hospital by ambulance at 3 a.m. ET. He was discharged at 7:40 a.m. on Tuesday and taken to his house by ambulance.

The problem is that Czubak and his wife weren't staying at their house. The couple had been living at the Weston Gardens retirement residence.

Danuta Czubak said that because of the mistake, her father-in-law was essentially dropped off at "an empty house."

"All of a sudden he's dropped off alone in his pyjamas," she told CBC News. "He didn't have a walker, he didn't have a cane."

Neighbour Joe Zacchilli was shovelling his driveway when Tadeusz Czubak was taken to the house.

Staff of the ambulance service asked Zacchilli if he could check on his neighbour at regular intervals. He agreed.

"When they left, they said, 'He's all alone, would I be able to check on him every half an hour or so?' I said 'for sure.'"

When Zacchilli went to check on his neighbour, he found him collapsed on the basement stairs. Paramedics had left him in the foyer of the house. He called Danuta Czubak, who rushed over to find her father-in-law on the bed.

Czubak said her father-in-law was on heavy pain medication that had left him confused about his whereabouts.

"I found him in his bedroom sitting on the bed with blood pouring off of his knee," she told CBC News. "He was confused. He just kept asking me where his wife was."

Back in hospital

After seeing his injuries, she called for the ambulance again and he was taken back to hospital.

Czubak's son, George, said he's grateful his father's neighbour was able to help.

"If it wasn't for our neighbour, he could be there bleeding on the floor, dying."

The family said the hospital did leave a voice message on George Czubak's cellphone just before 7 a.m. on Tuesday to tell him his father was being discharged. But hospital staff didn't speak to anyone directly and the message was missed, as Czubak was at work. Hospital staff have apologized, but the family said they're looking at their legal options.

Trillium Health Centre said Wednesday it is investigating. The retirement home is also investigating.

In a statement, the ambulance company, Ontario Patient Transfer, said Czubak seemed very aware of his surroundings upon arriving at the house, that he let himself inside and thanked staff for their help. The company also said it took Czubak to the address provided by the hospital. 

Czubak remains in hospital where he is being treated for complications from his surgery, including a blood clot in his knee and another in one of his lungs.


  • An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that paramedics transferred Tadeusz Czubak from the hospital to his house. In fact, that transfer was performed by an ambulance service.
    Dec 19, 2013 6:36 AM ET
With files from CBC's Travis Dhanraj and Lorenda Reddekopp