Health Minister Erin Selby said Monday the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority is investigating two recent patient deaths to determine if the health authority’s safe-discharge policy was followed — and if the two men were healthy enough to be released at a time the city was under a deep freeze.
"We’re going to look at the entire circumstance," Selby said. "Maybe we have to talk about what the weather is like and what time of day they’re going home and if there is going to be somebody there or if they’re going home on their own."
The WRHA’s emergency program safe-patient discharge guideline was brought in May 28, 2012 and updated the following November.
In particular, it says that in all cases, patients who require assistance with transportation or to get into their homes, and remain there safely, must have a named and available support person contacted, confirmed and documented by hospital staff before being discharged.
"Part of what the critical-incident review will look at is whether or not those safe-discharge guidelines were followed and whether we need to strengthen them," Selby said.
The two elderly men who died last month were treated and released at the Grace Hospital within 24 hours of each other. Each was found dead outside in frigid late-December weather.
David Silver, 78, died Dec. 31 after being dropped off at home by a cab about 1:30 a.m.
He had just been discharged from the Grace ER, where he was diagnosed with kidney stones and gallstones, told to see his family doctor and sent home.
He had a heart attack moments after the cab pulled away. He wasn’t found until much later that day when his housekeeper discovered him lying a short distance from his front door.
In the other recent death, a man in his late 50s or early 60s — the WRHA would not confirm his name or age — was discharged from the Grace about 8:25 a.m. Dec. 29. About 9 a.m., residents in the 100 block of Arlington Street discovered the man lying unresponsive on the sidewalk.
The CBC identified him as Wayne Miller and reported he suffered an aneurysm.
Meanwhile, WRHA president and CEO Arlene Wilgosh met with two members of the Manitoba Taxicab Board, board chairman Bruce Buckley and city councillor Harvey Smith, to begin looking at a new policy for cabbies who drive discharged patients home.
More meetings are planned, to include the industry, over the next few days as the WRHA and the province want something formalized soon.