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Health authority apologizes, defends B.C. hospital's decisions after bleeding 90-year-old woman sent home from by cab

May 7, 2002 file photo.

CHUCK STOODY/CP

The Fraser health authority is saying sorry to a 90-year-old woman who was sent home from hospital by cab in the middle of the night, wrapped in a sheet and bleeding from a medical procedure – a case that his fired up a furious debate about common sense in hospital care.

But even as the authority's CEO, Dr. Nigel Murray, said he hoped to apologize in person to Vivian Fitzpatrick, he defended Delta Hospital, which is central to a controversy that has drawn in various politicians including Premier Christy Clark.

"It's been a difficult time for Mrs. Fitzpatrick and family,' Dr. Nigel Murray told a news conference held as Fraser Health concluded a review into the recent incident.

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With the conclusion of the investigation , Dr. Murray said he was in a position to comment on the matter.

Earlier this month, Mrs. Fitzpatrick was hospitalized for various symptoms including nausea and high blood pressure. But she was sent home by cab, alone, wrapped in a sheet at about 2 a.m after the hospital reportedly called her in-home caregiver to say Mrs. Fitzpatrick was on the way. She has told the media that she bled into the sheet from areas where the hospital had put an intravenous line.

Dr. Murray said it was clear that Mrs. Fitzpatrick had an "unsatisfactory" health-care experience and that Fraser Health recognizes that.

While he told the media he was sorry, he said he would like to go further. "I would like to reach out to that family. That would be great and we'll consider that."

But he added he was "confident that the correct clinical decisions were made" by the hospital, which provides "great services" to many members of the community.

"I would like to re-emphasize the importance of confidence in the Delta Hospital and related services – and our other hospitals in Fraser Health."

Dr. Murray said Fraser Health sends home patients at all hours. "If they're clinically appropriate to go home, home is a good place to be – your own bed; you can make your own cup of tea, get yourself organized as long as somebody is there to help you with that process."

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He said the authority will learn from the incident.

The incident with Mrs. Fitzpatrick has led to families disclosing other incidents in which seniors were discharged in a way that raised alarms among families.

Asked about the situation earlier this week, Premier Clark said health authorities have to make sure such discharges are done properly. She said about one in 11,000 admissons results in a complaint.

"We want to get that down to zero," she said. "We're doing well but we still have work to do."

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About the Author
B.C. reporter

Ian Bailey is a Vancouver-based reporter for The Globe and Mail.  He covers politics and general news. Prior to arriving at The Globe and Mail, he reported from Toronto and St. John’s for The Canadian Press.  He has also covered British Columbia for CP, The National Post and The Province. More

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