January 11, 2014

David Silver and others in Winnipeg, Canada who take a taxi from the hospital to their deaths

David Silver
David Silver, age 78, died on December 31, 2013, at the entrance to his home.

He went to the Grace Hospital Emergency Department because he was feeling sick. He waited for hours before seeing doctors who told him that he had gallstones and kidney stones. What else they told him for pain remediation or treatment is unknown at this time. He was discharged and sent home in a taxi at 1:00 a.m. He was sent home in the clothes he came in - pyjamas and slippers.

The taxi driver let him out and took off, not waiting to see if David Silver made it inside his house.

David collapsed on his own doorstep and died of a heart attack. If he hadn't, he would have frozen to death as the temperature was something like minus 37 degrees Celsius (with the windchill factor).

On December 29, 2013, another man who is unnamed was also discharged by the

same hospital, and sent home by taxi but never made it inside his residence. He collapsed on the sidewalk and died there. It was not reported if he froze to death.

A local medical commission, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, will conduct a "critical incident review" regarding these tragic deaths. "Safe Discharge Guidelines” are also being reviewed and will be part of an investigation into the two men’s deaths.

Provincial authorities want cab drivers made responsible for ensuring that people discharged from hospitals and sent home in a taxi make it in the door safely but they don't know how they will enforce this.

Firstly, it doesn't take a panel of experts or consultants to figure out that a patient needs special consideration at a hospital emergency department when:

He is elderly, frail and sick;
comes in dressed in pyjamas and slippers;
comes in unaccompanied by relatives or friends;
lives in Winnipeg and comes in during the Winter

Secondly, it would seem apparent that Taxi Drivers would not have to be trained and coached on the common sense approach that when a "fare" is picked up at a hospital at 1:00 a.m., appears elderly, is in his pyjamas and slippers, and it is almost 40 degrees below zero, that the Taxi Driver would wait 3 minutes until the "fare" got into his front door.

Who doesn't know this?

Winnipeg has the unwelcome distinction of being the coldest major city in the World as reported in a 1986 list of extremes. In December of 2013 and January of 2014, Environment Canada listed Winnipeg as being brutally cold. Nothing has changed since 1986, despite global warming. Winnipeg will never "warm up" in this century. Hospitals in the coldest major city in the world should not be discharging frail, unaccompanied, elderly patients by taxi, period. 

Brian Sinclair

Winnipeg also has the dubious distinction of allowing a man to die while waiting in a hospital emergency department. In September of 2008, Brian Sinclair, an Aboriginal male, age 45, who was a double amputee in a wheelchair, died in the Emergency Department of Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre, where he sat silently waiting for medical care for something like two days. Rigor Mortis had set in before he was attended to.

It's time for a reassessment, at least, in Winnipeg of Hospital Discharge Procedures in Winter.

It's also time in Winnipeg that Taxi Drivers woke up and started taking responsibility for their riders who are picked up at hospitals in the dead of night. If they are sick and old, wait at least until they get in their door. What is it about this concept that you do not understand?  Are you so greedy for the next fare and more money that you can't wait 3 or 5 minutes?

Pray for David Silver and Brian Sinclair and the "unnamed man" who died so tragically in Winnipeg. Amen.

God help us. Amen.

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