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CanadaOttawa woman's appendix bursts during lengthy wait to be admitted to hospital

13:20  17 june  2019
13:20  17 june  2019 Source:   ottawacitizen.com

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Ottawa woman's appendix bursts during lengthy wait to be admitted to hospital © Provided by PostMedia Digital

An Ottawa woman’s appendix burst while she waited four hours on an ambulance stretcher to be admitted to The Ottawa Hospital on June 2. Once she was admitted, she waited a further 24 hours for surgery, which was complicated because the infection had spread, she said.

The public servant, who is now recovering at home, said that when she arrived at the General campus by ambulance in excruciating pain on the Sunday night she was told there were only a few people ahead of her and it wouldn’t take long. That was 8 p.m. She was admitted around midnight.

About two hours into her wait, around 10 p.m., the woman said the pain in her abdomen became much more intense and she began experiencing shooting pain. Subsequent tests showed that her appendix had ruptured.

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She calls her experience a “nightmare” and says she wants answers. Among other things, she wants to know how the hospital’s switch to a new patient record system just a day earlier might have affected her care.

Staff at the hospital seemed preoccupied by the new patient record system throughout her multi-day stay there, the woman recalled. This newspaper has agreed not to reveal her name.

“Everybody in the emergency department was walking around talking about how terrible the new system was and how they couldn’t give proper care to patients because they were spending time trying to figure out the new online system.”

The Ottawa Hospital was among six Eastern Ontario health care providers that switched to the online patient record system Epic beginning on June 1. The system will allow health care providers to share patient information instantly and allow patients to access their own records.

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Ottawa Hospital chief of staff Virginia Roth said she believes the $87-million, multi-hospital system will save lives by minimizing errors and allowing for faster, more accurate care among other things.

This newspaper has heard from several patients who have described confusion getting access to records and other glitches in the days since the new system was adopted.

Teams from the U.S. company that designs and sells the information system have been working in the hospitals during the transition.

The hospital would not comment on an individual case but said staff in the emergency department triage all patients. The introduction of the new information system has not changed the way that patients are triaged “or how patients in need of emergency care are seen.”

Spokesperson Michaela Schreiter said staff and physician numbers in emergency departments were increased “to support the transition to the new digital health information system, to ensure that patients continue to receive the best care possible.”

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The woman said her ordeal began over the weekend. On Saturday, June 1, she thought she had food poisoning. By midday Sunday, she had severe abdominal pain. Her husband called an ambulance Sunday evening because she couldn’t physically get into the car to go to the hospital. The paramedics assisting her “immediately thought it was my appendix.”

She had to wait four hours to get assessed or get pain medication she said, although the emergency department did not seem to be unusually busy.

After she was admitted, blood was taken and she had a quick ultrasound, but was told they couldn’t see much and would have to wait until morning for a more sensitive ultrasound. Around noon her appendix rupture was confirmed.

She had surgery around 10 p.m. — 26 hours after arriving at hospital. The surgery took an hour and a half, longer than expected because infection had spread throughout her abdomen, she was told. She was also told that her recovery would be a little bit longer than with a less complex case.

The woman said that during her stay in the hospital staff told her everything was slower because they were spending a lot of time on computers dealing with the new records system or meeting with company reps to have questions answered.

By Wednesday, when she had started feeling better, a nurse told her about another appendix case with a very different timeline. A patient had come in that morning with appendicitis, was rushed into surgery and had gone home at 2 p.m.

“What was the difference with my case that I had to wait compared to the woman who showed up and was taken care of quickly? What happened?”

The Ottawa Hospital said it does not comment on individual cases but thoroughly reviews all cases where a concern is brought to its attention.

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