Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

PCs want probe into woman's ER wait, death

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MANITOBA Conservatives are calling for an inquest into the death of a Winnipeg woman who died at home a day after waiting six hours in vain for treatment at the Victoria General Hospital's emergency room.

Bonnie Guagliardo, 68, was taken to the hospital ER by family members on Feb. 13 after suffering a bad fall and injuring her head. She was assessed by a triage nurse but never saw a doctor before she left.

"She went to the right place at the right time to seek the right kind of care and she didn't receive any care," Progressive Conservative health critic Cameron Friesen said Thursday after raising the woman's story in the legislature.

Members of Guagliardo's family sat in the visitor's gallery but declined to be interviewed.

Friesen decried the long waits that plague Winnipeg ERs and prevented Guagliardo from receiving the care she needed. According to Winnipeg hospital figures obtained by the Tories, 25,095 people visited city ERs between April 1, 2012, and January 2013 and left without seeing a doctor.

"That is terribly troubling and it should be troubling for all Manitobans," Friesen said. "Manitobans need answers on this and they need to have a high degree of confidence in the health-care system."

Health Minister Theresa Oswald said Thursday she is looking into the situation. "The circumstances in this case, as described, are very tragic. And we want to ensure that we get to the bottom of what happened," she said outside the legislative chamber.

Friesen said Guagliardo, after six hours of waiting, convinced herself she couldn't have been as ill as she thought since a doctor had not yet seen her.

"This woman suffered a traumatic head injury. There was immediate swelling and bruising. She complained of a terrible headache and while she waited, her situation continued to deteriorate... " the PC health critic said.

"There was swelling that continued. So by the time she walked out the door, no one could have mistaken that this was a serious head injury," he said, adding the case is reminiscent of the death of Brian Sinclair and other tragic deaths linked to inadequate ER care. Sinclair, a 45-year-old double amputee, died after waiting for 34 hours in the emergency room of Health Sciences Centre in 2008.

Heidi Graham, a spokeswoman for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, said the hospital apologized to the family and conducted an internal review into Guagliardo's case. When the review was complete, hospital staff shared the results with family members as well as the follow-up actions that were taken as a result, she said.

Graham said while a triage nurse was Guagliardo's main contact at the ER that day, another nurse did try to convince her to stay when she indicated she was leaving without seeing a doctor.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 17, 2013 A4

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