150+ Critically ill Canadian patients rushed to U.S.
More than 150 critically ill Canadians – many with life-threatening cerebral hemorrhages – have been rushed to the United States since the spring of 2006 because they could not obtain intensive-care beds here.
Before patients with bleeding in or outside the brain have been whisked through U.S. operating-room doors, some have languished for as long as eight hours in Canadian emergency wards while health-care workers scrambled to locate care.
The waits, in some instances, have had devastating consequences.
“There have been very serious health-care problems that have arisen in neurosurgical patients because of the lack of ability to attain timely transport to expert neurosurgical centres in Ontario,” said R. Loch Macdonald, chief of the division of neurosurgery at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto. Those problems, he said, include “brain injury or brain damage that could have been prevented by earlier treatment.”
Ontario has the worst problem, though it is not alone.