Death of woman who was sent home from ARH emergency room prompts questions

Mary Louis Murphy, 56, visited ER Jan. 30 complaining of chest pain. She was sent home and died in her sleep the following night.

Mary Louis Murphy died Jan. 31 after being sent home from the Abbotsford Regional Hospital emergency department.

Fraser Health officials are looking into another case in which an Abbotsford Regional Hospital (ARH) patient died within days of being sent home from the emergency department.

Mary Louis Murphy was brought to hospital the evening of Jan. 30 complaining of excruciating chest pains. She thought she was having a heart attack, but was told she was having a muscle spasm and sent home after receiving a shot of morphine.

Murphy, who was 56 years old, spent the following day in extreme discomfort, according to her close friend, Andrew Grimeau. That night, still in pain but not wanting to relive her experience at ARH, she went to sleep. She never awoke, and was found by her boyfriend the following morning.

Grimeau said Murphy went to hospital suffering from “pain she had never felt before.” He said she wasn’t seen by a doctor for five hours, until she received the morphine shot.

Murphy had worked for Fraser Health as a medical assistant in a rehab facility located near the hospital. Grimeau said she was an “independent woman,” who loved reading, watching TV, and caring for her plants and cats.

“She would get up and go for a weekend to see Joe Walsh Band in the Kootenays,” he said. “She was a healthy lady all around.”

He continued: “She didn’t have many people around, but the ones she did have, she loved so dearly and [she] would go to the end of the earth for people.”

Grimeau said a coroner’s report listed her cause of death as “unknown.”

Fraser Health said no complaint has yet been lodged with its patient care quality office.

“Certainly, our hearts go out to this family who have lost a loved one,” spokesperson Tasleem Juma said in an email. “Since this was brought to our attention, we have reached out to the woman’s relative to better understand their concerns. We will look at this person’s chart and we will be working with the coroner’s office to see what additional information they can provide.”

Juma urged the public to contact Fraser Health with any concerns, particularly when a person dies at home, as the health authority may not otherwise be notified of a recent patient’s death.

A week after Murphy’s death, a three-year-old child died a little over a day after being brought to hospital by her parents. Nimrat Gill was sent home from the hospital the morning of Feb. 6, only to be brought back to ARH 29 hours later when her symptoms worsened. She died soon after.

A joint review between ARH’s emergency department and the health authority’s Maternal, Infant, Child and Youth team is underway, and the coroner’s office is also investigating.

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