A hospital in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, has apologized after one of its staff members recently instructed an emergency room patient to lie on the floor, according to The Ottawa Citizen.
The Citizen on Sunday reported that the patient had begged for space to lie down during a long wait in the Ottawa Hospital’s emergency department.
Martina Campbell, a retired nurse who once worked at the hospital’s Civic campus, recounted the Nov. 20 incident to The Citizen after witnessing it.
Campbell said that a man who had injured his back was crying in pain and vomiting when he pleaded for a spot to lie down.
“’I can’t take this much longer,’” she said the man told a passing health worker. “’I feel like I am going to pass out.’”
Campbell said that the worker responded by pointing to a dirty, high traffic spot on the floor in response to the man’s request.
“The waiting room became silent,” she said of the response. “There were gasps. A few people beside me said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’”
“I have been a nurse,” Campbell continued. “You don’t put a patient on a floor. I said, ‘Get him a stretcher.’ I know patient care is declining, but this is ridiculous.”
Campbell was in the emergency department for her son at the time, and the man, who has not been identified, was ultimately given a stretcher.
The Ottawa Hospital then apologized in a statement issued last Friday after reviewing the incident.
“We apologize for any misunderstanding or distress,” it said of the situation involving the patient, who was told his wait would last about four hours.
“We have also reached out to the patient to offer that apology, to explain that it was a busy night in our emergency department and that we regret the moment in which this incident took place,” the hospital added.
“Our staff, including the staff member in question, took great care to manage the impacts of high occupancy and other pressures on patients. This moment is an opportunity to learn and improve for all.”
The Ottawa Hospital was at 108 percent capacity during the night of the event, and it had been higher during the previous week.
Hospitals across Ontario have been chronically overcapacity in recent months, causing long emergency department waits and added pressure on their staff.