Ministerial policy guidance requires us to use out-patient medical treatment, as much as possible, when the health condition of patients allows for it, to favour home care for people with decreasing autonomy and to reserve short-term care beds for acute and complex medical episodes.
Generally speaking, following a discharge from the short-term unit, the patient has a reasonable minimum timeframe to vacate the room, more specifically, from 1 to 2 hours, after which, the user will be offered an alternative solution as to where to wait for the arrival of a family member. This procedure is aimed at making the hospital bed available for another person awaiting medical services.
Likewise, patients must vacate emergency service rooms within a maximum of one hour following their discharge, after which time the person may wait in the emergency waiting area, as needed. Adhering to these practices helps reduce and limit overcrowding in emergency departments. For all these reasons, discharges occur at all times in emergency departments as is presently the case in all of Québec’s hospitals.
The many studies carried out in connection with elderly people’s spending an extended period of time in hospitals or emergency departments clearly show these individuals to be at a greater risk of contracting communicable diseases such as gastroenteritis, C. difficile infections and pneumonia. Furthermore, staying in a hospital emergency department over an extended period of time often results in accelerated losses of autonomy for those individuals.
After a medical discharge has been given to them, patients who refuse to leave the hospital, without a valid reason authorized by the hospital establishment, will have to bear the cost of the daily rate at the hospital, as specified annually by MSSS regulations for each day that a short-term hospital bed is not required for their care.