Ottawa

Preventable deaths at Gatineau hospitals blamed on lack of 'rigour'

Responding to an investigative newspaper report showing the Gatineau and Hull hospitals lead Quebec in deaths caused by medical error, the regional health authority is blaming what it calls a lack of "rigour" at the two facilities.

Gatineau, Hull hospitals lead province in deaths caused by medical error, report found

Provincial coroners reported 15 preventable deaths at the Hull Hospital between 2008 and 2018, and 34 at the Gatineau Hospital, according to an investigative report by Quebec newspaper La Presse. (Michel Aspirot/Radio-Canada)

Responding to an investigative newspaper report showing the Gatineau and Hull hospitals lead Quebec in deaths caused by medical error, the regional health authority is blaming what it calls a lack of "rigour" at the two facilities.

On Monday, La Presse revealed the Gatineau Hospital leads all hospitals in the province in the number of deaths determined by provincial coroners to have been caused by medical error, with 34 over the last decade.

The French-language newspaper's analysis of 900 coroners' reports from 1998 to 2018 also found 15 deaths at the Hull Hospital that could have been avoided.

On Tuesday, the CEO of the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l'Outaouais (CISSSO), Josée Filion, blamed those results on sloppiness by staff at the two hospitals.

"I think there is an absence of controls, of rigour ... a lack, perhaps, of consequences. Not all people are sloppy in their practice, but how precisely we intervene with people who are [needs to be addressed]," Filion said in French.

Mechanic Tyler Simard blames his continuing health problems on the poor treatment he received at the Hull Hospital. (Stu Mills/CBC)

Patient left untreated 3 days

The spokesperson for patient advocacy group Action Santé Outaouais said the problem at the hospitals is not a lack of professionalism or resources, but the attitudes of the doctors there.

"It's not a question of competence, it's a question of attitude, about whether you're interested in your patients or whether you're not," the group's Denis Marcheterre said in French.

Take the case of truck mechanic Tyler Simard: In 2011, Simard went to the Hull Hospital suffering from acute pancreatitis. He was given a bed, but was never issued a hospital bracelet or medical chart. Told a specialist was coming to see him, Simard stayed in bed, still wearing the street clothes he'd arrived in, for three days.

After three days of waiting in vain, Simard approached hospital staff and told them he was leaving. They objected and told him if he left, he would lose his priority.

CISSSO CEO Josée Filion is vowing to improve health care at Gatineau's two hospitals. (Radio-Canada)

"I said, 'If you can tell me who I am and what I'm here for, [I'll stay]. I have no wristband identifying who I am, I'm in regular blue jeans and a T-shirt. You couldn't even tell me if I was a patient or not.'"

Simard left and was admitted to hospital in Ottawa, where within hours he underwent surgery.

Filion defended changes she's made to CISSSO since taking over from Jean Hébert, who was fired in February.

On Tuesday, she announced four new priorities for the health authority, including "continuous improvement."

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