Quebec emergencies | An “extremely difficult” situation

2023-11-23 06:57:25

The circulation of respiratory viruses and the strike in the health network make the situation in emergencies “extremely difficult,” warns the Association of Emergency Medicine Specialists of Quebec. The occupancy rate of stretchers exceeds 200% in several hospitals in the province.

What there is to know

  • The situation has been “extremely difficult” in the emergency room since last weekend.
  • The traffic rate in Quebec’s emergency rooms stood at 132% on average in the last week, but several hospitals recorded rates of more than 200%.
  • The circulation of respiratory viruses and the strike in the health network contribute to this difficult situation, estimates the Association of Emergency Medicine Specialists of Quebec.

“Since Sunday, it has been extremely difficult. There is a lack of staff,” indicates the president of the Association of Emergency Medicine Specialists of Quebec, Dr.r Gilbert Boucher. Many patients requiring hospitalization on floors are forced to remain in the emergency room, sometimes for days.

“In all emergencies on the island of Montreal, with one or two exceptions, we have patients who have spent more than 48 hours in the corridor,” says the Dr Butcher. Lanaudière and the Laurentians are the regions which currently record the highest emergency occupancy rate. Chaudière-Appalaches, Laval, Montreal and Montérégie follow.

This heavy traffic is not without consequences for patients.

There are a lot of people who leave without being seen. We hope that it will go down quickly, but it is certain that the more days we spend at 150-200% [d’occupation]the more dangerous it can be for patients.

The Dr Gilbert Boucher, president of the Association of Emergency Medicine Specialists of Quebec

Medical professionals are currently prioritizing patients on stretchers. “We really don’t have a lot of resources left for new patients who come to the emergency room,” says Dr.r Butcher. Patients who require rapid care, i.e. priorities 2 of 3, may find themselves waiting several hours before being seen. “So that’s much more worrying,” says the Dr Boucher.

Respiratory viruses involved

“It’s really an influx of viruses that is causing us problems at the moment”, indicates the Dr Butcher. Quebec is currently observing a strong wave of respiratory infections. Nearly 112,000 people per day contract such an infection, according to weekly surveys carried out by the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec.

The COVID-19 virus is not the only one circulating extensively. The respiratory syncytial virus displays a high rate of spread while influenza A is also starting to make itself felt more and more.

The strike also has an impact on emergency room traffic, notes the Dr Butcher. “Essential services are maintained, but with children not going to school, there is still a shortage of staff,” he said. Some clinic appointments are canceled, so “these are people who from time to time will come to the emergency room.”


Demonstration in front of the CHUM, Wednesday

The second strike sequence of the common front of the public sector began on Tuesday and will continue until Thursday. The common front brings together 420,000 workers from four unions (CSN, CSQ, FTQ and APTS). The health, social services and education sectors are affected.

“With the return of cold weather, viruses and the strike, we just no longer have the means to adapt. We really use our resources to the maximum,” summarizes the Dr Boucher.

Relieve emergencies

Asked to know what actions the population should take to relieve emergencies, the Dr Boucher is unequivocal: emergencies should be avoided if the situation does not require rapid treatment. “Wait a day or two for the clinics, it’s worth it,” he says.

People who are really not feeling well should not hesitate to go there, says Dr.r Butcher. “It’s happened in other years where patients showed up several hours too late for strokes or heart attacks, but they should have come much earlier. For these people, if you come to the emergency room, we will take care of you,” he says.

Emergency rooms receive 9,881 visits per day on average. The pick-up time after triage is 3 hours 10 minutes, 20 minutes longer than last week.

With Pierre-André Normandin, The Press

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