Nov 18

Fraser Health promises action following New Westminster woman’s death in ER

The Fraser Health Authority says it will look at ways to improve its service following the death of a New Westminster woman who was left untreated in the Royal Columbian Hospital emergency room this month.

Surjit Kaur, 73, spent her final hours of life sitting in a wheelchair in the emergency room waiting for a treatment bed to open up. Her family says she died an “undignified death” and was not being properly cared for.


New Westminster woman dies in Fraser Health emergency room while waiting for treatment

Kaur had been vomiting for over a week and was told to go to the ER for urgent care. While she was there, she waited in a wheelchair for six hours without an IV or regular monitoring, her family said. When nurses finally tried to rouse her to move into a bed, she was unresponsive.

The family said hospital staff told them they can’t monitor the patient or administer an IV unless the patient is in a treatment bed.

Kaur’s family said Fraser Health has taken responsibility, and promises changes will be implemented to prevent this from happening in the future.

On Friday, Fraser Health sent Global News a statement saying Kaur was very ill and her outcome could not have been changed. But the authority admits it could have done better.

“While we don’t believe we could have changed the outcome, as this patient was very ill, we have listened to the family and understand that we could have improved the final hours of this woman’s life,” the statement said.

Fraser Health says it will now provide “education opportunities with multidisciplinary staff” which will include reviewing processes and protocols “to ensure they were adhered to during her care.”

It adds it will look at every step of Kaur’s visit and examine the circumstances in the hospital at the time of her visit that may have contributed to her experience.

“We have had very constructive meetings with the family and will continue to support them through their loss,” the statement concludes.

The statement does not address specific action Fraser Health will take to avoid situations like Kaur’s in the future.

WATCH BELOW: More troubling questions about the state of health care in B.C. after a New Westminster senior died in a wheelchair after waiting for hours in emergency. John Hua spoke to the family.

Troubled history in Fraser Health emergency rooms

Kaur’s family is the fourth to come to Global News after a loved one died after a visit to a Fraser Health Authority emergency room.

In September 2016, 27-year-old Kris Biggs arrived at the Surrey Memorial Hospital emergency room with severe chest, back and head pain. Doctors told him it was dehydration and muscle soreness and sent him home, but he died in bed the next day of an undiagnosed aortic dissection.

READ MORE: Family asking questions after son dies following Surrey hospital ER visit

Mary Lou Murphy went to Abbotsford Regional Hospital on Jan. 30, sweating profusely and in considerable pain. After a five-hour wait, she was given a shot of morphine and sent home, Fraser Health said. She died the next day.

READ MORE: Another family wants answers after woman dies a day after discharge from Abbotsford hospital

Just a week later, Balraj Gill took her three-year-old daughter Nimrat to the same hospital with a fever. Gill said she was advised to go home and give her daughter Tylenol. She was rushed back to the hospital the next day after her condition worsened, where she later died.

READ MORE: ‘How can it happen to her?’ Abbotsford family wants answers after 3-year-old dies in hospital

With files from John Hua