An incident involving a security guard at a Toronto emergency room that left an 84-year-old woman badly bruised is now under investigation by the provincial government, days after a CTV News story looked into what happened.
Ontario’s Ministry of Solicitor-General, which licenses private security, said in a statement that it would look into how June Turcotte was treated at Michael Garron Hospital more than 12 hours after she arrived for basic tests.
“Ontario’s Private Security and Investigative Services Act, and its respective Code of Conduct, establishes that security guards, private investigators, and the agencies that sell their services are expected to conduct themselves professionally, effectively, and lawfully,” said Brent Ross, a ministry spokesperson.
“The ministry can confirm that there is an active investigation under the Private Security and Investigative Services Act into this matter. The individual in question is a current security guard license holder. Given the investigation, it is inappropriate to provide additional comment,” he said.
It’s not the only investigation into what happened on Sept. 19 – Turcotte’s family also called in the police, who told them the guard remains employed.
The hospital didn’t answer questions from CTV News on the incident, saying it couldn’t discuss the incident thanks to patient privacy.
“When an incident related to patient care is filed, our teams work directly with patients, families and their care team to conduct a fulsome investigation of the matter, address immediate concerns and learn from the incident to make improvements,” the hospital statement said.
During their efforts to engage with hospital management directly, the Turcottes say they were told that Turcotte didn’t respond to loud verbal commands, and they tried to contact the family.
However, Turcotte’s daughter, Shelley Pett, said that Turcotte is deaf and has dementia. Pett said she went home to sleep after a lengthy wait and told staff to call and she would return quickly to manage any issues.
Pett said she didn’t get a call and doesn’t understand why medical records don’t mention the incident.
“It’s really upsetting. I feel terrible for the family,” said Dr. Vivian Stamatopoulos, an advocate for the care of the elderly.
She said hospitals need to think harder about how to care for patients with dementia, especially as they will become much more common as the population ages.
“I would like to see the hospital take accountability for this and acknowledge that in no way could this have been the appropriate way to handle an elderly woman who is deaf and has dementia,” Stamatopoulos said.
Reached at an announcement in Burlington, Health Minister Sylvia Jones said security guards are sometimes necessary.
“It’s really important that we protect our health human resources. We protect those RNs, [and] we protect the physicians within our emergency departments. And that is why hospitals have chosen to have a security guard in place,” she said.
Last week, leaked data from Ontario Health showed that one in 10 patients admitted to a hospital from an emergency department waits at least two days before they get to a bed in November 2023.
The rate of harmful events in Canadian hospitals is trending up, from 5.3 per 100 visits in 2014-2015 to 6.0 per 100 visits, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information.