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Inquest called into hospital death of 68-year-old woman

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Manitoba’s Chief Medical Examiner Dr. A. Thambirajah Balachandra has called an inquest into the death of Heather Brenan who died at Seven Oaks General Hospital last year.

In a release today, Balachandra said the inquest will examine the circumstances of the 68-year-old woman’s death, plus look at the hospital’s policy regarding the discharge of patients at night, particularly those who are elderly, frail and who reside alone.

Brenan, 68, had multiple medical problems. On Jan. 24, 2012 just after 2 p.m., a friend took her to the emergency department of the north-west Winnipeg hospital.

She was complaining of weakness, difficulty swallowing, pain when attempting to eat solid food and continuous weight loss since December 2011.

Brenan was kept in the hospital from Jan. 24 to 27, 2012, she was never admitted. She underwent numerous tests and was assessed by Occupational Therapy, Social Work, and Home Care regarding a discharge plan for when she was medically stable and ready for discharge.

On Jan, 27, 2012, following an assessment by a physician, Brenan was discharged at about 10:30 p.m.

The release says that the hospital had apparently had made arrangements for Brenan to be met at her residence by a friend who had the house key.

The friend said Brenan arrived in a cab and had collapsed in the doorway of her home almost immediately.

An ambulance was called and Brenan was brought back to the ER just after midnight Jan. 28, 2012. Although a pulse was restored, Brenan was found to be non-responsive and her pupils were fixed and dilated.

She was transferred to the intensive care unit where her condition continued to deteriorate. Brenan died on Jan. 28, 2012 at 11:55 a.m. The cause of death was bilateral pulmonary thromboemboli due to deep vein thrombosis of the lower legs. The manner of death was natural.

The inquest was also called to look at the hospital acute care bed situation in Winnipeg and to determine what, if anything, can be done to prevent similar deaths from occurring in the future.

A date, time, and location of the inquest will be determined by the chief judge of the Provincial Court.

History

Updated on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 3:09 PM CST: Corrects photo caption.

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