Bad treatment in hospital: an independent investigation called for into the death of Normand Meunier

Bad treatment in hospital: an independent investigation called for into the death of Normand Meunier
Bad treatment in hospital: an independent investigation called for into the death of Normand Meunier

The three opposition parties in the National Assembly on Wednesday called for an independent investigation into the death of Normand Meunier, this quadriplegic man who resigned himself to requesting assistance in dying due to bed sores developed after spending 96 hours on a stretcher not adapted to his condition at the Saint-Jérôme Hospital.

Accompanied by the deceased’s spouse, representatives of the Liberal Party, Québec Solidaire and the Parti Québécois wanted to call on the government to ensure that Mr. Meunier’s death was not “in vain.”

“What happened there is a real shame! It’s absolutely shameful in a society like ours,” said solidarity MP Vincent Marissal.

“Medical assistance in dying […] it has never been a substitute because there is no care in Quebec. That was never the idea,” he added.

The latter said he was dissatisfied with the investigation launched by the CISSS des Laurentides, since he believes that it is this CISSS which is responsible for this “fiasco”.

For her part, PLQ MP Elisabeth Prass stressed that not only could Mr. Meunier’s death have been avoided, but also that there are other stories like this in Quebec’s health system.

She considers it unacceptable that there are no suitable mattresses in all emergency rooms in the province, nor staff to move patients like Normand Meunier to prevent them from developing bed sores.

“In Quebec, in 2024, returning to the hospital to treat one illness and leaving with another which leads a person to request medical assistance in dying […] It’s really tragic for all of Quebec,” she declared.

PQ MP Joël Arseneau wants the independent investigation to shed light on the death of Mr. Meunier, but not to be limited to this specific case.

“There is a gaping gap and what we want to know, through an independent investigation, are obviously the circumstances which led to this tragedy, but more generally (it is) to be able to take a look at on the continuum of care, not only at the Saint-Jérôme hospital, but so that we can also see if it is only the tip of the iceberg,” he explained.

“In Quebec, when it comes to treating people with limitations […] are they receiving appropriate care? Can we talk about institutional mistreatment in a very anecdotal way or on the contrary, are there cases like that that can occur as we speak,” added the elected official.

Official apologies demanded

The opposition parties deplore the vague response from the Minister of Health to their request for an independent investigation.

They also demand that the government make an official apology to Mr. Meunier’s widow, Sylvie Brosseau.

The latter also spoke during the press briefing on Wednesday, believing that she must “lead this fight” in memory of her late spouse.

“I hope that everything Normand suffered will not be in vain,” she said, in tears.

Ms. Brosseau calls on the population to mobilize to help people with disabilities.

“It is certain that there are other people who are very unwell in hospitals currently and who are not receiving the right care. We have to take care of it. We have to take it seriously, we have to take the time, we have to listen to them, we have to support them and not leave them alone in their corner saying: it will pass. It’s not true, it doesn’t work,” she added.

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