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Fraser Health offers apology to woman who gave birth in Surrey Memorial Hospital lobby

Pawandeep Samra gave birth on her fourth visit to SMH, after being sent home three times earlier that day
Surrey Memorial Hospital emergency department entrance. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

A new Surrey mom gave birth to her daughter at the entrance of Surrey Memorial Hospital on her fourth trip there for help, after reportedly being sent home three times earlier that day.

So what happened?

“Sorry, for that question, we can’t discuss individual patient cases due to confidentiality,” Nick Eagland, communication consultant for FHA public affairs replied.

“We are sorry to hear about this person’s experience at Surrey Memorial Hospital. We are committed to providing safe and timely patient care to each person who presents to one of our hospitals,” he said in an email to the Surrey Now-Leader on Thursday.

City News reported Jan. 12 that Pawandeep Samra gave birth in the lobby of SMH on Boxing Day after being sent home three times that same day while in labour. The couple could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Dr. Darren Lazare, Fraser Health Authority’s program medical director and regional department head for its mother, infant, child, youth program, said Thursday while he can’t speak specifically to Samra’s experience, he offered “an apology to the patient and to her family on behalf of Fraser Health,” though he wasn’t personally involved in the situation.

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Asked under what circumstances a pregnant woman would be sent home from hospital three times in one day prior to her giving birth there on the fourth visit, Lazare replied in terms of the process for assessing patients in labour, a woman might come in with painful contractions, could be bleeding or breaking her water.

“She would either call, at which there is a specialized nurse at the end of the phone who works in the family birthing unit at Surrey or any one of the hospitals in Fraser Health that does maternity care, she might come in, in which case she will be seen by one of those nurses,” he explained, “and so what happens at that point is they’re assessed and there’s an assessment done in terms of her contractions, in terms of what’s going on with her labour, and then that patient is seen by somebody whether it’s a family doctor, obstetrician or midwife, and they complete the assessment, review the pregnancy history and would ascertain in most cases whether the membranes or the water has broken, how strong the contractions are, how frequently they are coming.”

The patient’s cervix is checked to see how dilated or open it is, and based on that assessment, “and there might be other things they are looking at, depending on the case,” a decision is then made, “speaking with the patient and her support person, about the next step.”

Somebody who is in very early labour or only two or three centimetres dilated might be sent home. This kind of thing, Lazare said, happens “all the time.”

“We know that if a person is in very early labour, the best place for them is often at home, in their own environment, with the comforts of their home and their family to support them. When they get to a point either because they are in active labour or because there is some other concerns, they would then be admitted to the obstetric unit and proceed to deliver at some point.”

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Lazare said it’s “conceivable” that a patient may come in, be assessed, everything looks okay and she is deemed safe to go home, “and they might come back whether it’s an hour, two hours or five or six hours later. They may be in pain, they may be concerned, and so they may come in again, they’re re-assessed and then a decision is made again speaking with the patient in terms of what would be the next best step. So it might be to go home, it might be, if it’s appropriate, to be admitted.”

Asked if these protocols were followed in this case, Lazare said the documentation needs to be reviewed. Lazare said Fraser Health has contacted Samra “and obviously we’re taking this very seriously and we want to follow up with her and discuss her experience, and so that is happening.”

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About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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