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Quebec docs take complaints to YouTube

MONTREAL – Unable to get attention from hospital executives or provincial officials, doctors at LaSalle Hospital have posted videos on YouTube to publicly criticize what they call the unhygienic state of their emergency rooms. Using the online video site, they are showing Canada and the world the conditions they say undermine the health of patients.

“We weren’t being heard,” Dr. François Langlais, one of the two physicians behind the campaign, told the CBC. “It was a last resort. It wasn’t something that we’re doing happily.”

Physicians hope to pressure Quebec’s Liberal government to renovate their ER. In the seven videos they’ve posted on YouTube and on a separate website, Langlais and Dr. Tony Assouline tour their ER, pointing out shortcomings.

Assouline points out mould on the ceiling, hallways crowded with hospital beds, and old, outdated equipment. He says the emergency room hasn’t been renovated for more than 25 years.

One of the videos shows mould in a ceiling vent. While rooms for patients with infectious diseases should be hermetically sealed, in this hospital, some isolation rooms are just beds surrounded by a curtain, the doctors said.

Langlais says the ER conditions haven’t harmed patients yet. But the ER no longer fulfills provincial standards, and they say they’ve been lobbying for renovations since 2004.Langlais said the hospital submitted renovation plans to the government in May 2010.

The hospital was supposed to get a response within two months, but he said that still hasn’t come. That’s why they decided to go public and go online, Langlais said.

Health Minister Yves Bolduc said that he would not respond directly to the LaSalle doctors’ campaign. He said that’s because an announcement on a project involving the hospital is imminent.

“I believe that it’s a necessary project and I want to do it as soon as possible,” said Bolduc.

Posted February 24, 2011