Burnaby Hospital executive director Arden Krystal said the numbers were a surprise.

“It doesn’t feel consistent with what our experience of patient care is at this hospital, and frankly, not consistent with what the majority of our patients would say our patient care is,” Krystal said.

 Well, she would say that, wouldn’t she? I am afraid I must disagree. And I can only offer one personal experience, but which was so bad, its trauma lives with me to this day.


I had a bike accident in Burnaby and was taken by ambulance to Burnaby Hospital. In the ER I was ignored for hours and no-one informed my wife where I was. I am diabetic, but I was put on ‘nil by mouth’ for over twelve hours – modern practise has shown this is not necessary to avoid choking under a general anaesthetic but this had not yet trickled down to Burnaby. I had an operation on my wrist. The orthopedic surgeon and the radiologist noticed that the broken bone they were examining was “mush”(the orthopod’s word) but neither suggested to me or my GP that we check out my bone density. I had to work that one out for myself.


After I recovered from surgery, I found that I was unable to urinate. This is a common side effect of general anasthesia. I asked a male nurse for assistance. I was catherised, but he then encouraged all the staff on the floor to come and watch me fill the container – mostly female nursing and ancilliary staff. I was so relieved that it did not occur to me to complain at the time. I realise now I should have protested the lack of privacy.


I was also presented, not having eaten anything for 48hours, with what was said to be a “toasted cheese sandwich”. It had been kept in a warm cart for most of the day and was simply inedible. I did not eat any of the food delivered to my bed side by the hospital, but like most of the people on my ward relied on the provisions supplied by visitors.


Now none of this is life threatening, but it does indicate a general lack of concern for patient care – which is what hospitals are supposed to be about.


I no longer ride my bike – mostly because I have an unreasonable fear – not of accidents but that I might once again find myself in a hospital like Burnaby. It probably did not help that in my 58 years that was the first (and so far last) time I spent a night in a hospital as a patient. For all I know this experience might well be common. It would certainly help explain some of the data that Arden Krystal thinks is surprising.


Posted by Stephen Rees  at 14:10