Hospital 9-1-1

DSCN6639This photo is of the main entrance to Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville.

Today, a hospital employee told me that if someone seated on the yellow bench to the right of the hospital entrance fell or needed medical assistance that person or someone with them would have to call 9-1-1. Hospital policy doesn’t allow staff to go outside of the building to render assistance, even when the person in need is literally less than a foot from the door.

These two benches are often used by hospital patients who have stepped outside for some fresh air. The advantage of these benches is that they are under the entrance awning, so the patient is protected from the weather. It’s not unusual to see patients in wheelchairs or standing with an IV pole in this area. Hospital, and by extension Nova Scotia Health Authority policy for the province, says hospital patients and anyone else in need of emergency medical assistance who are outside the building need to call 9-1-1!

We are told in medical emergencies that minutes and seconds count. So how many Nova Scotians suffer catastrophic consequences because ambulances and paramedics have to drive across a community to render assistance to a hospital patient or someone trying to enter a hospital? How much worse – and more expensive to treat – is their condition because of this lost time?

It seems absurd that a hospital patient who is literally on the other side of a door or mere metres from an ER would have to call paramedics and an ambulance for assistance. It’s dangerous for them and supremely wasteful for the system. How much is an ambulance call these days? And who pays? If someone is a hospital patient, isn’t it the hospital/health authority’s responsibility to pay? And when answering such a call, that’s making an emergency team unavailable for another emergency. And then there is the risk of another accident or incident as an ambulance speeds toward the hospital to render assistance.So there could be a significant ripple effect across the community.

With hospital staff ordered not to render assistance, it’s not clear that they would even make the 9-1-1 call. In the past with the notorious case of the 83-year-old woman asking for help for her 80-year-old husband who was having a heart attract across the street from Soldiers Memorial Hospital in Middleton, she was told to call 9-1-1. Staff did not even offer to dial the phone for her.

Surely there is a better policy.


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6 Responses to Hospital 9-1-1

  1. woof says:

    I doubt very much if the “regular” RN or MD would oppose assisting these people, but again we see the “wise” decisions made through our over-abundant administration. Isn’t there something about the “good samaritan” rule or first on site that may obligate professional staff to assist?

    • The person I spoke with disagreed with the policy, but they and their colleagues could get in trouble for violating it.

      I first became aware of this thinking in December 2009 when a 83-year-old woman ran into Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital in Middleton asking for help for her 80-year-old husband who was having a heart attack across the street. She was told to call 9-1-1 or bring him in herself. That made national headlines. AVDHA told the national media they would consider their policy. No one I have spoken with know of any change. And there have been other incidents at other hospitals.

  2. Bubbie says:

    The policy to call 9-1-1, even though a person is within a few feet of the ER entrance has been in place for a number of years right across the province. I saw a person collapse after immediately being released after open heart surgery exiting the V.G’s. Centennial building several years ago and 9-1-1 was called where the patient was transported to the ER at the Halifax Infirmary. There were doctors and nurses present who could have assisted in this emergency situation but because of the policies in place, were prohibited in doing so. I questioned why 9-1-1 was called and told that if someone were to be right in the ER itself, just walking through and collapsed, 9-1-1 would be called. Ridiculous, I know, but, it was explained it was because of the triage system where people are served on the severity of their condition that 9-1-1 has to be called

    I feel there needs to be another way this should be addressed. As you have pointed out, time is of the essence and the quicker a person is attended to the better chance the severity of whatever is happening to that person is reduced. In the past, it seemed common sense was the best way to handle an emergency situation when a person fell to the ground needing immediate medical attention.

  3. woof says:

    Triage is a more planned thing, emergencies aren’t. Common sense seems to be lacking.

  4. woof says:

    Triage is more of a planned, unplanned event….emergencies aren’t. Maybe a course in common sense would benefit. Emergencies are emergencies regardless of where they occur.

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