Transfer patient’s death probed as potential critical incident


Advertise with us

WINNIPEG — An investigation into a potential critical incident is underway after a patient died on board a medical transport flight from Winnipeg to Edmonton on Monday.

Read this article for free:


Already have an account? Log in here »

We need your support!
Local journalism needs your support!

As we navigate through unprecedented times, our journalists are working harder than ever to bring you the latest local updates to keep you safe and informed.

Now, more than ever, we need your support.

Starting at $14.99 plus taxes every four weeks you can access your Brandon Sun online and full access to all content as it appears on our website.

Subscribe Now

or call circulation directly at (204) 727-0527.

Your pledge helps to ensure we provide the news that matters most to your community!

WINNIPEG — An investigation into a potential critical incident is underway after a patient died on board a medical transport flight from Winnipeg to Edmonton on Monday.

On Thursday, a spokesperson for provincial health authority Shared Health confirmed a person died during an out-of-province critical care transport on March 13, in response to questions from the Free Press.

The person died after a “clinical incident” during the flight, the spokesperson said. Provincial health officials are investigating it as a potential critical incident.

“We offer our condolences to the family and loved ones of the individual,” the spokesperson said.

A critical incident is an unintended event that occurs when health services are provided to a person and result in a serious and undesired consequence, including death, injury and disability, according to the province. It is not a result of the person’s underlying health condition or a risk inherent in providing the health services.

The patient was being flown from Winnipeg to Edmonton for a double-lung transplant, a source familiar with the matter said.

Manitobans waiting for a lung transplant are referred to the Edmonton Lung Transplant Program and must travel to Alberta for the surgery immediately when donor organs become available.

Transplants are a course of treatment for several end-stage lung diseases, including cystic fibrosis, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and pulmonary hypertension.

The investigation by health officials comes as Manitoba’s medical aviation services and the province’s chronic shortage of health-care workers receive renewed public scrutiny.

Last week, the death of a patient in a hallway of the Health Sciences Centre ER on Feb. 28 was officially deemed a critical incident. The man arrived at HSC around 11 p.m., was triaged and waited about an hour in the hallway before his condition deteriorated and he was pronounced dead, the Free Press has reported.

Later that day the hospital implemented its overcapacity protocol. Hospital management has acknowledged it is short-staffed and patients are sicker.

Also last week, the family of Krystal Mousseau, an intensive care patient who died after a failed attempt to airlift her to Ontario, filed a lawsuit against the Manitoba government, health authorities, the airline and two flight staff members and a critical care nurse.

The 31-year-old mother from Ebb and Flow First Nation died May 25, 2021, during the height of the third COVID-19 wave, when patients were being flown out of province because Manitoba ICUs were full.

On Wednesday, 79-year-old Brandon resident Eleanor Buechler told the Brandon Sun she was mistreated and feared for her life during a medical flight to Winnipeg in February after she had a heart attack.

NDP Leader Wab Kinew raised the matter in question period Thursday, saying the privatization of air ambulances has led to poor patient outcomes. He called on the government to accelerate collective bargaining with the Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals, which has been without a contract for five years.

The union represents more than 6,000 workers, including advanced practice respiratory therapists and respiratory therapists. MAHCP has repeatedly raised alarms over a shortage of RTs and increasing workloads.

“Our hearts go out to the patient and their family,” union president Jason Linklater said in a statement. “While we do not know the details of this particular incident, respiratory therapy is experiencing critical staffing shortages like many allied health professions across Manitoba.”

Monday’s flight was appropriately staffed by a Shared Health patient team, the authority’s spokesperson said.

“Clinical staff are assigned according to individual patient need by staff with advanced critical care expertise. This may include physicians, nurses, advanced practice respiratory therapists and advanced care paramedics,” the spokesperson said. “The configuration would be reviewed by clinical leadership prior to takeoff to ensure appropriateness for the patient.”

In respect of patient confidentiality and the investigation, no other details could be provided Thursday, the spokesperson said.

The health authority said the vacancy rate for respiratory therapists in the adult patient transport program is about 22 per cent.

» Winnipeg Free Press

Report Error Submit a Tip


Advertise With Us