The Health Care System in Freefall: A Week Observing an Emergency Ward (Part II)

Twice in two years, I was hospitalized in the emergency ward for a week for lung problems. Same illness, same treatment, same hospital. I decided to do a comparative portrait of what’s happening in our emergency wards based on these two stays two years apart.

Between 2013 and 2015, hospitals had really changed.

By Raymond Viger 

Given the different problems in hospital emergency wards, we can attempt to compare the impact on patients and on hospital personnel.


It’s easy to understand without doing much calculation that the consequences of what I noticed in hospital will increase reaction times to respond to patients. I don’t even have a buzzer anymore to make an attendant or a nurse aware that I need assistance. Raise my hand; scream louder than my neighbor… Do what I have to do to get seen. And that doesn’t mean that they’ll have the time to help me with my problem. There may be others who got their attention before me, whose needs are more urgent than mine.

Risks of Error, Communication Problems

During my iodine injection x-ray, the technician decided to withdraw my diabetes treatment pill from the cocktail of pills I take. He said: This medication combined with iodine can cause serious harm to your kidneys.

Yet the nurse who brought me my pills included my diabetes pill. I refused it on the basis that it could harm my kidneys, given that I’d been subjected to a test involving radioactive iodine.

The next morning, after the doctor had read his colleagues’ instructions, the nurse gave me the diabetes pill again. She told me: The doctor must have considered that there was no risk, seeing that he didn’t remove it from the cocktail of pills you’re taking. Despite that, I still refused to take the pill. She asked for confirmation from the doctor, who phoned the radiologist. And finally, the pill was withdrawn from my prescription for the 48 hours required.

I can’t tell you what would have happened had I not taken control of my own treatment.

Increase of Suffering

Patients who are left on their own to increased suffering, and the lack of communication and ways to be heard, reassure no one. The situation is becoming untenable.

Verbal violence merely increases stress and pressure. I am not a doctor, but I suppose that the war climate that exists in the wards doesn’t contribute to the calm and peace needed for healing.

And this violence is palpable both day and night. Even at night, sleeping becomes a luxury.

When the effects of morphine diminish, some patients call the nurse and scream: Give me some morphine… now!!!

Waiting for the doctor to prescribe more, or waiting until the time between two injections has run out, don’t seem to be convincing arguments when one is faced with the fear of one’s suffering returning again.

First seen on Raymond Viger’s blog, December 15th, 2015

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