A Cape Breton doctor says some patients are putting their health at risk by avoiding the emergency department in Sydney, N.S., because they are worried about long wait times and exposure to people with contagious illnesses.
Dr. Joan Salah, who works at the urgent treatment centre in North Sydney, said she told one patient who recently visited the centre because of chest pains to go to the hospital. He was placed on a stretcher and paramedics were ready to make the 20-minute drive to the Cape Breton Regional Hospital. But Salah said he refused to go.
The patient was told that he might die if he returned home “and he made that choice rather than go to the emergency department, which, when you’re the paramedics and the physician standing there trying to convince him that his symptoms are worth being assessed in the emergency department, that can feel scary,” Salah told Information Morning Cape Breton.
The patient did not go to the hospital by ambulance and Salah said she doesn’t know what happened to him.
Vast majority seek appropriate care
In another case, a man with chest pains went to the ER but left because the wait was too long. He then waited a few days to visit the urgent treatment centre, where they were unable to diagnose the problem due to the delay, she said.
The vast majority of patients at the urgent treatment centre are seeking appropriate health care for their symptoms, Salah said, but others are increasingly showing up when they should be going elsewhere.
“What I’m seeing now is that people are staying at home, sort of waiting until it’s bad enough to be worth that long wait. And for some people, maybe this is reasonable to wait a bit longer and see if they’re