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External review a possibility

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THE president of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority says she is open to an outside review -- if warranted -- into the treatment and release of two recent Grace Hospital patients who died after being sent home by taxicab.

In an interview Wednesday, Arlene Wilgosh defended the use of local health professionals to conduct critical-incident probes into both incidents.

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"These are professionals that are reviewing the charts. They have standards," Wilgosh said.

If their work is "substandard or not legitimate" they could be disciplined by their peers, she added.

Grace Hospital will be conducting its own separate internal reviews into the December deaths of Wayne Miller, 62, and David Silver, 78, Wilgosh said. Both men died after a taxi dropped them off at their homes but before they were able to get inside.

The critical-incident reviews will be conducted by local medical professionals who do not work at the hospital.

Relatives of Silver and Heather Brenan, who collapsed outside her door in Jan. 28, 2012, after being dropped off by a cab from Seven Oaks General Hospital, expressed skepticism this week about the WRHA reviewing itself.

Wilgosh said while the region is not contemplating bringing in outside experts, it won't rule that out.

"We need to see the results of what comes forward," she said.

Wilgosh also said she hopes to receive preliminary reports on the two critical incidents within a month.

"I'm asking that these be done as thoroughly as possible, as quickly as possible," she said.

Meanwhile, Wilgosh said the WRHA will meet again next week with officials from the Manitoba Taxicab Board to discuss the incidents. Under consideration is a policy that says cab drivers must wait until a discharged patient is safely inside their residence.

Gene Majowski, operations manager at Dignity Taxi, said representatives from each company should be involved in the discussions with the WHRA.

"The problem I have is blaming the driver when he's at the bottom of the totem pole," he said.

"We should be able to hear what's going on. Until the drivers have at least somewhat of a voice, nothing is going to change."

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 16, 2014 A3

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