Canadian girl dies in emergency room after seven-hour wait; husband says she was 'uncared for'

A Canadian girl died after ready seven hours within the emergency room, along with her household blaming problems and shortcomings in the country’s health care system for the loss of life. 

“I would like to express my deepest condolences to the family of the patient who died at Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre,” Canadian Health and Wellness Minister Michelle Thompson wrote in a press release launched Monday. “This is a tragic loss, and my heart goes out to them. I understand they want answers.

“Nova Scotia Well being has begun an investigation, often called a high quality evaluation, into this case to find out what occurred, how we are able to do higher, and what we are able to do to stop it from taking place sooner or later.”

Allison Holthoff, 37, went to the hospital after complaining that she wasn’t feeling well on New Year’s Eve. She told her family that she had pain in her abdomen that continued to increase with time.

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Holthoff’s husband, Gunter, took her to the hospital as her condition grew more severe. She waited for seven hours for anyone to attend to her, but she ended up dying. Gunter told reporters on Monday that he still didn’t know his wife’s cause of death.

“Sadly, I do really feel like she was uncared for, and it was to some extent the place they could not ignore us anymore,” Gunter said at a press conference. “It was a horrible scenario for my spouse, for my youngsters, and lots of people in the neighborhood. I am simply misplaced.”

Gunter told reporters that his wife had fallen off a horse in September and had complained of pain in the following months. He said it had been “tough instances” for his wife.

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He found her laying in the hallway on New Year’s Eve after she tried to ease the pain by taking a bath.

The couple waited in a temporary waiting room in the hospital’s foyer after completing triage at around 11:20 a.m. Holthoff didn’t enter an exam room until 3 p.m., with her pain intensifying over successive hours. 

Medical staff took blood and urine samples during the seven-hour wait, with one nurse asking near the end if Holthoff was “all the time like this” upon seeing her extreme pain. Holthoff started screaming in pain at around 6 p.m. as medical staff prepped her for an X-ray.

Doctors and nurses resuscitated Holthoff three times before determining that they had a “[1%] likelihood of maintaining her alive” and would not pursue surgery. A doctor told Gunter that his wife had suffered from internal bleeding but could not determine the origin.

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Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin, member of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly, hosted the press conference and outlined a seven-point plan to address the situation, CTV News reported.

In a letter to Thompson, Smith-McCrossin urged Emergency Health Services to place “a devoted healthcare skilled within the non permanent/makeshift ready room” to “monitor and supply ongoing medical evaluation of individuals ready to see the ER doctor.”

She also suggested renovations to the main emergency room, a dedicated adviser to assist the families of deceased patients, improve staffing levels in the ER and publicly list wait times in the ER, among other measures.

Smith-McCrossin said that Gunter has been “a hero” for the way he has dealt with his spouse’s passing. Holthoff’s household buried her on Saturday.

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