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Lakeshore Hospital ER has highest death rate in Montreal, data shows

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The Lakeshore General Hospital emergency room has the highest death rate on the island of Montreal, figures from the Quebec Health Ministry reveal.

The data, first reported by the Montreal Gazette, shows a rate of 3.4 deaths per 1,000 patients at Lakeshore between April 2023 and February 2024.

It's more than double the average death rate across all Montreal ERs (1.39 per 1,000).

Lakeshore Hospital, located in Pointe-Claire, has been heavily scrutinized in recent years following reports of severe overcrowding, preventable deaths, long wait times and chronic understaffing.

Just this week, a report from Quebec's ombudsman found staff sometimes use restraints "too quickly" when dealing with patients and "lack knowledge" about the protocol.

However, hospital representatives point out that the building's geographic location may be a factor in its relatively high death rate.

"Lakeshore General Hospital's emergency is a very, very busy emergency," said Stephanie Iasenza, a spokesperson for the CIUSSS de l'Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal, which oversees Lakeshore Hospital. "It's the hospital that's the most central to the West Island -- the only one in the West Island -- and does receive a very high volume of patients that are very sick and very acute."

Iasenza added that the hospital serves an "increasingly elderly population,' and that it "also offers services to the off-island population."

The latest figures from the Lakeshore ER aren't far off from 2020, when there were 3.7 deaths per 1,000 patients.

In June 2023, an independent report into conditions at Lakeshore was released, making 135 recommendations for improvements.

In a written statement to CTV News, the Health Ministry said the death rate figures in Montreal hospitals "must be interpreted with caution."

"Seventy-five per cent of deaths in emergency departments had an average length of stay of less than 12 hours. Some of these deaths may be attributable to people in palliative care, waiting for a bed, or to a rapid deterioration in the health of certain users (e.g. heart attack, pulmonary embolism)," the statement reads.

"The emergency department is the only point of entry for patients with life-threatening conditions." 

Greg Kelley, Quebec Liberal Party MNA and representative for the Jacques-Cartier riding, said many West Islanders have approached him with concerns about Lakeshore and access to care.

"We all know that the nurses, the doctors, the support staff, they're doing what they can, but often it's very clear that they are short-staffed," he told CTV News in an interview. "The other thing that people often say is that they avoid the Lakeshore because they know how long it's going to take. And people think of going, you know, either to Hawkesbury, or even Cornwall [in Ontario], to avoid the Lakeshore, which isn't good. We don't want people avoiding their local hospital and going elsewhere."

Kelley said the Lakeshore's death rate can't be blamed on geography and demographics alone.

"There's the General and there's the Jewish, and they have a lot of seniors in those parts of Montreal, too. They have a huge population they have to serve. So I don't think you can dismiss that as an indicator altogether," he explained.

The MNA said he's requested a meeting with Health Minister Christian Dubé to discuss further solutions to conditions at Lakeshore Hospital.  

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