Overcrowding in Ontario’s hospitals is a serious – and growing – problem

After a recent visit to a hospital in Sudbury, France Gelinas, Health Critic for the provincial NDP, filed a Freedom of Information request to better understand a critical issue to Ontario’s healthcare system: hospital overcrowding.

“I knew it was bad,” Gelinas told the CBC. “I knew our hospitals were overcrowded, but I never thought it was that bad.”

In order for a hospital to provide reliable, quality care to its patients, it should not pass approximately 85 per cent occupancy. But according to the documents Gelinas received, the majority of Ontario’s hospitals operate at between 94 and 99 per cent capacity. These circumstances make it difficult for physicians and nurses to provide an appropriate quality of care, which can in some cases lead to injury. If you have been injured as a result of hospital negligence, contact a Will Davidson LLP hospital error lawyer today.

Hospital discharge

Discharge delays, according to a September 2016 article in Hospital News, are a major factor contributing to hospital overcrowding.  In May of this year, approximately 15 per cent of acute care hospital beds in Ontario were occupied by patients awaiting discharge to either long-term care or home care settings. As a result, new acute care patients are sometimes forced to occupy beds in hallways or make-shift rooms created with partitions, a scenario that sometimes produces the need for a hospital error lawyer.

“It doesn’t matter how hard they work, [staff] can not provide quality care, hallway nursing will never be quality care no matter how hard this nurse works,” Gelinas said, per the CBC. “[They] can not provide quality care in a hallway, [or] in a broom closet.”

Canada’s rapidly aging population is partly to blame for this problem: in the past seven years, Ontario hospitals have seen a 13.4 per cent increase in emergency room visits, fueled by a 29.1 per cent increase in visits by people aged 65 and older.

“Inevitably as we get older we have more health problems, for the most part,” Dr. Joshua Tepper, president and CEO of Health Quality Ontario, told the CBC in a separate report. “And therefore with a growing older population, we will see a higher level of illness with time, and especially with more chronic diseases.”

Increased funding for all aspects of Ontario’s healthcare system will be necessary for protecting hospital patients. In particular, long-term care and home care must receive renewed attention. Expanding the capacity of these systems and streamlining the process of discharging patients from acute care could relieve substantial pressure from Ontario’s hospitals.

We can help – contact a Will Davidson LLP Hospital Error Lawyer today

If you or a member of your family has suffered an injury as a result of hospital overcrowding, contact a hospital error lawyer at Will Davidson LLP to set up a free, no-obligation consultation. Hospitals in Ontario have a duty to provide attentive, high-quality care to their patients, and this care can be jeopardized in over-crowded hospitals with over-worked staff. At Will Davidson LLP, we will fight for the compensation you deserve as you work to recover from your injuries.

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