Significant increase in emergency room traffic in Quebec

Significant increase in emergency room traffic in Quebec

Wait times in Quebec emergency rooms were considered very long as of Thursday morning in all 15 Quebec regions except two of them, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean and Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine.

The website Index Santé, which tracks and reports emergency room occupancy rates and wait times, said just after 6 a.m. that rate was averaging 136%, the highest since traffic surged after the brief holiday lull.

The most critical situation was recorded at the beginning of the day in the Lanaudière region, where the occupancy of the emergency departments of the Lanaudière and Pierre-Le-Gardeur hospitals averaged 213%. In this region, 49 patients were on stretchers for more than 24 hours, including 16 for more than 48 hours.

In the neighboring Laurentides region, emergency occupancy was 177%.

Rates were recorded at 158% in Montérégie, 155% in Chaudière-Appalaches, 144% in Montreal, 139% in Outaouais, 135% in Laval, 132% in Quebec, 121% in Bas-Saint-Laurent and 108% in the Mauricie-Centre-du-Québec region and 105% in Estrie.

In Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, emergency room traffic was 90% and in the Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine region it was 72%.

At the start of the day, more than 3,900 Quebecers were in emergency rooms. The previous day, the average time spent in the waiting room was around five and a half hours.

After the Christmas lull, traffic in Quebec's emergency rooms continued to increase.

Increase in respiratory virus cases

Everything suggests that traffic is linked to an increase in respiratory virus cases. On the eve of New Year's Day, the Government of Quebec called on the population to exercise caution to limit the transmission of these viruses and not to put additional pressure on the health network.

The Ministry of Health and Human Services (MSSS) warned that viruses such as COVID-19, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza were widespread.

The ministry stated that a large proportion of patients who visit the emergency department do not need to go there.

Among the examples observed daily, the ministry reported sore throat, mild cough, gastroenteritis without signs of significant dehydration and symptoms of urinary tract infection. These health problems can often be neutralized through consultation via the 811 telephone line or at the Digital First Line Access Desk (GAP).

However, the ministry reminded that in any health situation that requires immediate treatment, one should not hesitate to go to the emergency room.