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Ontario coroner revising reporting form used in long-term care home deaths

Joanne Laucius 

The chief coroner of Ontario is revising the death record used to report long-term care home deaths with questions calculated to raise red flags about deaths that warrant closer looks. A significant proportion of deaths in Ontario happen in long-term care homes: about 20,000 annually from a total of 160,000. These are less likely to be investigated by a coroner, but there’s a simple explanation: People with numerous concurrent medical conditions are simply more at risk of dying, and the demise of a very ill or elderly person can hardly be described as unusual. But the simple explanation can also mask suspicious deaths. “There has been a bias in society that long-term care deaths are not unexpected,” chief coroner Dr. Dirk Huyer said. Eight elderly people died at the hands of nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer, who injected them with insulin. A public inquiry found last week that a coroner had been called in three of those eight cases. There was no suspicion that the deaths were the result of intentional wrongdoing, so Wettlaufer’s crimes were only uncovered after she confessed in September 2016. While the total number of Ontario deaths investigated by the coroner’s office has remained about the same in the past decade — from 18,308 in 2007 to 17,154 in 2017 — the number of long-term care death investigations dropped sharply: to 886 in from 3,326 in 2007. While a coroner investigating a long-term care death will typically conduct a head-to-toe examination of a body, autopsies in long-term care deaths are also rare.

Read the rest here:
https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/nursing-home-deaths

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