Paramedic logs reveal one patient died waiting to be admitted to a Regina hospital
The 2022 paramedics logs highlight some of the stresses Regina rescue workers have been facing for months, including a case in which a patient died at the hospital after delays in discharge, the documents show.
Offload delay occurs when ambulance patients cannot be transferred to a hospital bed immediately and paramedics must wait for the patient to be admitted.
The documents were provided to CTV News by a source that had filed a freedom of information request. This includes daily logs drawn up by paramedics from January to December 2022.
On September 13, 2022, the transcript states: “Coroner called, seeking information from [offload delay] that led to cardiac arrest.”
In an emailed statement, the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) said it “is unable to comment on specific cases or individuals due to data protection legislation.”
Saskatchewan Health Secretary Paul Merriman said the department is working with the coroner on investigations of this type.
“I am not familiar with this particular incident and have not been able to comment on this particular incident that the coroner is investigating, but we always make sure that we work well with the coroner and the SHA and all our partners to implement recommendations that are made come from this office,” Merriman said.
The format of the Paramedic Supervisor logs was changed in October to include more detail. Paramedics speaking to CTV News highlighted some cases that were of most concern to them.
On October 22, notes indicate that no units were available for a Seroquel overdose.
On October 27, it showed calls waiting longer than five hours, meaning some people who called 911 had to wait that long to get help.
On October 29, records said a patient with chest pain was held for 50 minutes and there were no transport units for an overdose patient, but an bystander administering NARCAN. The supervisor notes continued: “We [have to] be able to get our medics out of the hospital in a reasonable time if needed. I feel like a broken record.”
On November 1, there were delays in unloading of more than 10 hours. Notes indicate that there were no units available that day to respond to cardiac arrest. A paramedic was also attacked that day.
On November 9, it took 28 minutes for an ambulance to be dispatched to an emergency call for a high-priority pediatric seizure. Discharge delays reached more than 10 hours and help was called from Carlyle EMS.
“We take all concerns from patients and their family members very seriously,” the SHA statement said.
“Anyone with concerns about their care experience is encouraged to contact our Quality of Care Coordinators. This patient-centric service allows us to work with the patient and their family members in a respectful and confidential process to find out how we can help.”
In January, the Alberta government released an overview of two reports examining the province’s ailing rescue system. As a result of the reports, a number of recommendations were made.
The Saskatchewan Secretary of Health said the government and SHA are transparent with the public, noting freedom of information requests are always an option.
“We are, and will continue to, report a lot of data to the public on various things within our healthcare system. I’m not familiar with the Alberta report, but I will definitely look at it, and if it’s something we could implement in Saskatchewan, I will definitely speak to my officials and see a trial,” Merriman said.
The NDP’s health critic said there should be more transparency, particularly around deaths.
“I have concerns that it happened on a broader scale than this one situation and that’s not okay,” NDP MLA Vicki Mowat said.
According to documents made available to CTV News, at least one ambulance was dispatched every day in November. Some days four or five ambulances were dispatched.
In an interview with CTV News in November, the SHA’s South Zone EMS director said ambulances are full most days. They are said to be fully staffed with 11 ambulances during peak hours.
“We’re by 11 most days,” said director Glen Perchie. “There are definitely days when we leave a car behind.”
Paramedics speaking to CTV News say ambulances are typically dispatched because not enough staff are working.
On Wednesday, the province announced 24.5 full-time paramedic positions in Regina. They will be implemented over the next three months.
The positions are intended to help staff two additional ambulances in the city, as well as two smaller paramedic task forces.
“This is the first step in achieving greater efficiencies in our hospitals, particularly in Regina and Saskatoon, which have faced some pressure over the past few months,” Merriman said.
The NDP said any support is good news but noted that until those positions are actually filled, that’s just the beginning.
“We know we need system-wide reform, but we also need to make sure people are taken care of at their most critical times. Part of that is making sure we have paramedics and ambulances on the road, and part of that is making sure supplies are available when you get to the emergency room,” Mowat said.
The health secretary said the province hopes to fill the new positions with as many Saskatchewan students as possible.