Gatineau Hospital among worst in western world for ER care, report finds

The Gatineau Hospital is among the "worst in the western world" for ER care after it took more than 10 hours for a patient with ALS to see a doctor there about a broken collar bone, according to a recent coroner's report.

Man with ALS waited more than 10 hours to see a doctor for fractured collar bone

Aline Breton Gauthier holds a photo of her husband De Sale, who died in 2015 of ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease. A coroner's report into his death calls the Gatineau Hospital emergency room one of the worst in the western world. (Ashley Burke/CBC)

The Gatineau Hospital is among the "worst in the western world" for emergency care after it took more than 10 hours for a patient with ALS — also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease — to see a doctor there about a broken collar bone, according to a recent coroner's report.

The harsh words come after the treatment of 75-year-old De Sale Gauthier last year.

After falling in his home, Gauthier was admitted to the emergency room at the hospital on La Vérendrye Boulevard at 4:07 p.m. on Aug. 15, 2015, according to the report. He was classified by a nurse as a level three patient.

The ideal waiting time for level three patients to see a physician is 30 minutes, according to Canadian guidelines. The average wait time for level three patients at the Gatineau Hospital that day, however, was four hours and 25 minutes, according to the report by coroner Pierre Bourassa.

It's unbelievable. We need more compassion.- Aline Breton Gauthier

But Gauthier wasn't seen by a doctor until 2:40 a.m. the following day — more than 10 hours after he first arrived. Nurses also misplaced his medication and failed to give it to him at the right time, according to the coroner's report. He died five days later.

"It's unbelievable. We need more compassion," said Gauthier's widow, Aline. "I'm very, very unhappy. It's very difficult to understand what happened with the system."

Hospital underperforms compared to others

Dr. Guy Morissette, a spokesman for the Outaouais health agency, acknowledged that the ER at the Gatineau Hospital is indeed one of "the worst in the western hemisphere."

"We know that we have a big problem with access to the physician, in terms of delay" said Morissette.

"This has been known, and we we have had reports. It's been said in the media over the years. Things are improving ... we know that we have things to do, and we're [working] on that right now."

A report on the hospital by Quebec's health watchdog unrelated to the coroner's report said it underperforms compared to other Quebec hospitals, which that same watchdog ranks as the worst in Canada and the western world.

The health watchdog report gave the Gatineau Hospital a D- for emergency care.

And since no other hospital in Quebec has ever received a D- score before, "we are forced to conclude that the statistics indicate that this hospital is among the worst in the western world for health care possible," the watchdog's report concludes in French.

That comment was then echoed in the coroner's report into Gauthier's death.

It took more than 10 hours for 75-year-old De Sale Gauthier, who suffered from ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease, to see a doctor at the Gatineau Hospital for a broken collarbone. (Ashley Burke/CBC)