Friday, December 14, 2007

No burn unit staff in Ontario: patient flown to States

This from CTV News, Dec.12, 2007:

“The Ontario government says it is moving to address health care concerns surrounding pharmacist overpayments and surgery wait times raised in the auditor general's annual report.
Auditor General Jim McCarter suggested Tuesday that some pharmacists are scamming the province. He also found many operating rooms are sitting empty on weekends and during the summer because of staffing schedules…

Another concern raised in the annual audit surrounded wait times for surgeries.

McCarter said about 40 per cent of hospital operating rooms were not being used during nine weeks in the summer of 2006.

He also said surgical facilities are frequently closed on weekends and during the Christmas holidays and March Break.

The report found vacation staffing schedules were behind the closed operating rooms.
The audit also showed that despite government focus on surgical wait times, Ontario has no idea how many operating rooms the province has or adequate information on how many patients are waiting for specific surgeries.”

Truly unbelievable.

The largest socialized health care model in Canada - Ontario - Michael Moore’s wet dream, (with a population of almost 13 million, 10% of whom are virtually covered by medicare, but in reality, don’t even have a doctor) doesn’t even know how many patients are waiting for surgeries? It has no idea how many operating rooms it has?? Patients suffer and are forced to go to the States because the staff take vacations? And this is the system Moorists think they want?

Maybe the Auditor, or even the ombudsman for Ontario, can look into whether the following case of a burn victim who was shipped to Rochester, N.Y. was part of this staff-shortage shut-down of our Liberal-run health monopoly.

This incredible story was written by Dr. W. Gifford-Jones: “Small town doctor deserves a medal” (Windsor Star, May 31, 2007):

“Several weeks ago I wrote about needless, dangerous delays due to flaws in our health care system that resulted in surgery after an appendix had ruptured. Since then I've received numerous letters from readers reporting similar happenings. This unbelievable story is a tribute to small-town doctors, the backbone of our profession, who receive so little attention. How one helped to save the life of a desperately ill patient against great odds.

Charlie Godden, a 60-year-old dairy farmer from Campbellford, Ont., suffered third-degree burns to one-third of his body, a life- threatening condition.

His nightmare began when the 911 dispatcher could not determine the exact location of his farm. But finally, the ambulance and fire department arrived at the same time. Dr. Glenn Gibson, the only anesthetist at Campbellford Hospital, on call 7/24/365 administered life-saving treatment when Godden arrived at 3:15 p.m. At this point, hospital staff tried desperately to find a bed for Godden in a burn unit in Ontario.

A transport helicopter landed at 3:30 p.m. in Campbellford but by 4 p.m. the hospital could still not find an available bed, so the crew said they had to leave. Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto had five burn units, but no staff to service them, so Gibson turned to the U.S. for help.
At 4:05 p.m., a bed was found in Rochester, N.Y. But Gibson reports that at this point the pilots left anyway, saying it was their turn to go off duty. (Can you imagine doctors going off duty leaving a patient fighting for his life?)

Air Ambulance agreed to find another crew. But it would not happen until after 7 p.m., when the shift changed. At 7 p.m. they called back, complaining of weather problems, and said, instead, a fixed wing aircraft would meet the patient in Trenton. (Gibson says it was a clear night). But the plane would not have any paramedics on board or ventilating equipment and Campbellford would have to supply them.

Gibson was the only medical person available for the transfer. He was told he would need a passport to fly to Rochester, but he didn't have one. He did possess a photo firearms permit, harder to get than a passport, and suggested he would stay on the plane when it landed in the U.S.
The plane was to land at Trenton at 9:30 p.m., so patient and doctor arrived at that time. They waited on the tarmac another hour before the plane landed and then took off for Rochester.
During all this time Gibson continued to keep his patient alive by hand ventilation, a demanding physical task, as Godden could not breathe on his own.

Godden's temperature by this time had dropped due to shock and the low temperature of the plane. Doctors at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester were amazed Gibson had been able to keep him alive.

Unbelievably, OHIP now insisted Godden be returned to Canada for treatment. Doctors at Strong Memorial Hospital refused to move him until his condition had stabilized. Moreover, they wanted to start skin grafts immediately as the sooner this is done the greater the chance of saving body systems from irreparable damage.
For three days a debate ensued about who would do the skin grafts. Economics eventually won. Godden was rescheduled to fly to a burn unit at Sunnybrook Hospital by a second helicopter. It was soon found to be too large to land at Sunnybrook so another delay followed until a smaller one could be located.

Next, it was discovered the ventilator on the third helicopter was not working. But the helicopter staff decided, since it was only a 30-minute flight, that Godden could survive the flight without one.
Rochester physicians were so shocked at this decision, possibly a life or death one, that they loaned the plane a ventilator. Once again, thanks to our generous U.S. friends.
Skin grafts were finally applied in Toronto four days after the Campbellford accident, rather than the normal few hours. Charlie Godden is still in Sunnybrook Hospital, only able to communicate by blinking his eyes to a "Yes" or "No."

As for Gibson, he deserves a medal.”

What would Ontario do if we suddenly suffered a major calamity of burn trauma victims???

That this situation occurred to this patient is utterly beyond comprehension.

Some official body, like the ombudsman’s office, should investigate this whole sorry episode (which to me reeks of institutionalized monopoly negligence), and determine, as the Auditors report touched on, that if staff shortages are so severe in the health monopoly, what right did the government have to not inform the public of the danger, and, was the Ministry of Health endangering potential patients, and was the Ministry of Health negligent in its duties to provide Mr. Godden proper and timely care??

Where were Ontario's burn unit staff?

How will the public know when it’s not a good time to get burned, or have an accident, in our universal health-system?

No comments: