St. Mary’s Hospital Death in Montreal After Patient Refused Emergency Surgery JAN 20, 2016

Financial challenges are nothing new to health care in Quebec or anywhere else in Canada.   The province has created many private health services, but when you’re sick you expect to be treated when you enter a hospital, especially in emergency or crisis situations.

A patient at St. Mary’s died because the only chance they had after an abdominal aneurysm was discovered was emergency surgery.  Even that surgery was highly risky, but because of a bureaucratic decree the very surgeon who was on staff was not allowed to perform that surgery and instead the patient was transferred to another hospital.

That patient died which resulted in over 200 clinicians signing a letter of protest.

The hospital had decreed that this type of surgery, estimated to be done less than a dozen times per year at St. Mary’s, was decreed “eccentric to the mission”.

This writer isn’t sure what exactly that means for any hospital that has an emergency ward?   Internal bleeding really isn’t something that should be delayed and frankly in a moral sense some administrator, or group of administrators gave this patient a death sentence.    In some places that would be considered manslaughter.

Hospital staff say they were not consulted about the policy.   Dr. Carl Emond, a talented surgeon with over 30 years of experience, and one fully qualified to perform the surgery needed to save the patient, arrived at the hospital to the reality that his privileges to perform the surgery simply were not there.

Dr. Emond has performed literally hundreds of surgeries of this nature.

While health care rationing and long waiting lists are now common; for someone to die in this manner is utterly unacceptable.     The bigger question is how many people per year die across Quebec, and Canada, because of these austerity measures, and if some bureaucrats will be held accountable?

In Ontario a service called CRITICALL exists that is focused on inter health care transfers.

From their website:


  • CritiCall Ontario is a 24-hour-a-day ‘medical 9-1-1’ emergency referral service for hospital-based Ontario physicians.
  • CritiCall provides a capacity management system that documents the ‘status of’ and ‘access to’ Ontario’s acute care beds.
  • CritiCall provides implementation, training and problem solving assistance for the Critical Care Information System (CCIS) to Ontario hospital critical care units.


Focus on those we serve – foster and support greater integration and co-ordination within and across the various components of the health system; be focused on ‘client requirements’, recognizing privacy, security and protocol requirements
Foster Relationships – build partnerships with our stakeholders
Use System Approaches – standardize, document and validate all systems and processes
Promote Innovation and Quality – create opportunities and processes that encourage creativity and seamless services; strive for continuous ‘system’ improvement and alignment
Bring out the Best in everyone – encourage, coach, consult support and develop each other

Quebec does not have a similar service which makes a decision to transfer a patient in this condition even more boggling.    Doctors who spoke with CFN shared their frustration with some of the systems in place in health care in Quebec currently including harassment of doctors for seeing too many patients because of doctor shortages.

The bigger question is whether we’ll see more of these deaths in Quebec, and across Canada or whether this tragedy will lead to better and more responsible systems?

What do you think dear CFN viewers?  You can post your comments below.

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