Chiropractic + Naturopathic Doctor

Man with back pain told to call 911 even after arriving at hospital emergency

By The Canadian Press   


MONCTON, N.B. – A New Brunswick woman says she has filed a complaint after a hospital told her to call an ambulance even though she drove her ailing husband right up to the emergency room doors.

Candy Price of Riverview, N.B., said she drove her husband, Scott Macdonald, to the Moncton Hospital on July 13 with crippling back pain. Price said Macdonald was unable to sit or walk, was sweating profusely and was wailing in pain.

When they arrived at the hospital, Price said she went inside for help but was told by a nurse and security guard that she needed to call 911 so paramedics could bring Macdonald into the hospital.


“I’m sure my face dropped. I just looked at them,” said Price in a phone interview on Tuesday. “I didn’t say this but I was thinking in my head, ‘Really? I’m at the (emergency room)’.”

Price said with her husband in pain in the vehicle’s back seat, she followed instructions and called 911.

She said she had to repeat her request multiple times to the 911 operator, who she says seemed bewildered.

Price said the paramedics who attended the scene also appeared to be in disbelief that they were called upon to help the man from the vehicle and through the doors of the hospital just metres away.

“I couldn’t fathom why we had to do this… A few steps and I’m in,” said Macdonald of his ordeal. “I was blown away. I just couldn’t believe that nobody in there could come out and help.”

The couple said they have filed a complaint to the local health authority, Horizon Health Network.

Horizon said in a statement Tuesday that although infrequent, there are times when staff decide the safest and quickest option to transport a patient is to seek assistance from paramedics.

Dr. Serge Melanson, chief of staff at Horizon Health Network in Moncton, said moving a patient from a vehicle to the hospital may require several staff members and special equipment.

“In emergency rooms, health-care providers must quickly assess situations and make the best decision possible for our patients – balancing the need to act quickly while at the same time keeping patients and staff safe,” Melanson said in the statement.

“We are currently reviewing and assessing our processes with the understanding that there are always ways to improve. We are willing to meet with the patient and family member to discuss their concerns.”

Jean-Pierre Savoie, Ambulance New Brunswick’s acting director of operations, confirmed the service was called to the hospital’s emergency parking lot on July 13, and that paramedics assisted a patient into the emergency room.

Savoie said patients only receive an invoice for ambulance services when they are transported to hospital by ambulance. He said that was not the case here, so there will be no cost to Macdonald.

– By Aly Thomson in Halifax

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