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Updated: Thu, 03 Oct 2013 17:17:49 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

90-year-old patient's 2:30 a.m. discharge 'concerns' premier



Vivian Fitzpatrick, 90, says she was discharged from Delta Hospital at 2:30 a.m. PT and sent home in a taxi cab wearing pajamas and no shoes and bleeding from her arm. CBC

Vivian Fitzpatrick, 90, says she was discharged from Delta Hospital at 2:30 a.m. PT and sent home in a taxi cab wearing pajamas and no shoes and bleeding from her arm. CBC

B.C. Premier Christy Clark says she's concerned that a 90-year-old blind woman was discharged in the middle of the night from Delta Hospital, wrapped in a bed sheet, dressed in pyjamas and slippers, and bleeding from blood tests.

"Of course I'm concerned. They've apologized as they should have because that's just not the right way to treat people," said Clark, who is in Washington, D.C., today.

"People deserve to be treated better than that. So I know health authorities are dealing with it and I'm confident they will."

The Fraser Health Authority in B.C. has already apologized to the family of Vivian Fitzpatrick for sending her home alone in a taxi during the early hours of Wednesday morning.

"This is a very unfortunate incident and Fraser Health has apologized to the family for any inconvenience and distress this may have caused," said a statement issued by spokeswoman Tasleem Juma.

"Out of respect for patient confidentiality, we cannot discuss the details of the case, but we can reassure the family and the public that we are taking this very seriously." 

Wrapped in sheet and sent home

Fitzpatrick, who is legally blind, was taken to Delta Hospital, located south of Vancouver, by an ambulance at 10:30 p.m. PT Tuesday night after she felt an intense pain in her leg, which turned out to be a case of high blood pressure.

After she was cleared by a doctor, an unknown nurse came into her room and told her she was going home, Fitzpatrick said.

"The nurse came in and said 'the doctor says you can go home, there's nothing wrong with you,'" she told CBC News.

Despite Fitzpatrick pointing out she wasn't dressed, the nurse told her they had ordered her a taxi and were sending her home.

"I was kind of stunned," she said.

The nurse then wrapped her in a single sheet, gave her socks for her bare feet, and moved her into the emergency waiting room until the taxi arrived nearly an hour later at 2:30 a.m. PT.

When the taxi arrived, the driver walked her across the parking lot in a wheelchair in the pouring rain and wind, she said.

After arriving home, Fitzpatrick was greeted by her live-in caregiver, who noticed that her arm was bleeding considerably from her earlier blood tests.

"She took off my jacket, and my jacket was soaked right through with blood ... not my jacket, my pyjamas top and the sheet around me was soaked in blood," Fitzpatrick said.

Fitzpatrick's daughter, Paddy Munro, is disturbed by the incident.

"How can that happen? A 90-year-old woman sent out in the pouring rain in pyjamas and shivering in a waiting room by herself," she said.

"How can that happen?"

Fraser Health said in a written statement that it cannot comment on the specifics of the case, but that sometimes patients are sent home by taxi and it ensures patients are met by a caregiver when they arrive home.

"We are working with the family through the Patient Care and Quality Office to ensure this type of situation does not occur again," the statement said.

Fitzpatrick is still shaken by her experience.

"I don't want to go to that hospital again, I'm so upset," she said.

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