20-year-old patient dies in Abbotsford hospital hallway

The B.C. Nurses Union is calling for more beds in the wake of a 20-year-old woman's death while in a hallway

The B.C. Nurses Union is calling for more beds in the wake of a 20-year-old woman’s death while in a hallway at Abbotsford Regional Hospital early Christmas morning.

“We don’t condone hallway nursing at all,” said Linda Pipe, the BCNU representative for the Fraser Valley.

Pipe said she could not speak specifically about the case of the woman who died, but noted that safety is a consideration when patients are in hallways. At the head of a hospital bed in a room there is oxygen, suction and electrical outlets for medical equipment.

She noted the woman had been in the hallway four days.

Even though Abbotsford Regional Hospital was only completed in 2008, the nurses’ union says it is overcrowded, and already patients are regularly treated in hallways.

“This is normal now,” said Pipe.

She responded to public criticism that the nurses’ union is bringing this issue up in advance of negotiations scheduled for March.

“This has nothing to do with negotiations. This is about safe, quality care that the people of B.C. deserve.”

Anne Clarke, Fraser Health program medical director for emergency, is responsible for 12 ER’s in the health region, including Abbotsford’s. She said patients are always assessed as to whether it is appropriate for them to be in a hallway. They must have a stable pulse and blood pressure, and not need suction or oxygen.

Clarke said all of Fraser Health’s hospitals now have patients in the hallways during the annual “winter surge,” about 200 to 220 patients in total, and she expects these conditions will remain unchanged until spring. She said there is no reduction in their level of care for the patients in hallways.

“It’s the same nurses and it’s the same doctors who care for them,” she said. “It’s certainly less private, and it’s less quiet.”

She said the death will be reviewed by staff involved, the nursing manager and physicians, to understand what happened. That review will typically take two or three weeks. An autopsy report, which could take several weeks or as much as three months, will also be done.