Abbotsford ER doctors ‘very competent’: Fraser Health official

Dr. Neil Barclay says ARH emergency department recently honoured with award for improvements.

Family members have raised questions after the recent deaths of two patients shortly after they were sent home from Abbotsford Regional Hospital's emergency room.

The public should feel confident they’ll be treated well at Abbotsford Regional Hospital (ARH) despite two deaths of patients who were sent home from the emergency room, a Fraser Health emergency medical officer told The News Friday.

“I have a lot of faith in the Abbotsford emergency doctors,” said Dr. Neil Barclay, an emergency physician and regional medical director for emergency medicine in Fraser Health.

Barclay said the ARH emergency room doctors “are a responsive group [who] are really passionate about providing great, quality patient care.”

“If you go ask any one of those doctors about why they go to work, it’s because they want to help people.”

On Jan. 30, Mary Louis Murphy,56, visited the ER complaining of chest pains. She was given a morphine shot and sent home. She died in her sleep the following night.

And on Feb. 7, a three-year-old child died a little over a day after being brought to hospital by her parents. Nimrat Gill was sent home from the hospital the morning of Feb. 6, only to be brought back to ARH 29 hours later when her symptoms worsened. She died soon after.

Deaths weigh heavily on the staff, Barclay said. Physicians see one or two people every day who are classified as being in the highest level of danger. But Barclay said the death of a young child is “very unusual.”

“When something bad happens … they feel terrible about it,” Barclay said. “And these are things they are really interested in looking at and trying to improve.”

He said he was surprised that the two recent deaths would involve Abbotsford’s emergency department, given recent improvements in care.

“I’m a little bit shocked Abbotsford has come under the gun so much,” he said. “These are isolated incidents that are obviously tragic.”

He noted that the department had recently won an award for improving its patient care measures, and that wait times – the biggest indicator affecting patient satisfaction – were below the provincial average.

“Patients that go to Abbotsford are seen in a timely manner,” Barclay said. “The physicians do a really good job there of assessing people quickly. And if they show up and they really need the help, the waiting time is zero minutes.”

Barclay urged the public to contact Fraser Health with any problems. He said complaints and problems are a key driver of change as physicians and health officials try to improve service.

That includes both medical treatment and interactions between physicians and patients.

“This is how you improve. You find out what you’re not doing as well as you should be.”

Watch for more in Wednesday’s Abbotsford News.