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Emergency department deaths hit six-year high in N.S. [Video]

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Canadian National News

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. –

Doctors in Atlantic Canada say too many beds in emergency departments are taken up by people who need non-emergency care, and the “bed-blocking” is driving high numbers of emergency department deaths.

Dr. Mike Howlett, president of the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians, says ideally patients would be treated in the emergency department, and then moved out — perhaps to a spot in long-term care or back to their residence with home care lined up. But these community supports are increasingly scarce, leaving patients languishing in the emergency department, where research shows they’re more likely to grow sicker, or even die.

“What we really need is a decision by governments to make it a priority that these patients won’t stay in the (emergency) department as long as they are because we know that it kills people,” said Howlett, who is also an associate professor at Dalhousie University, in a recent interview.

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