Man with broken neck says he waited 8 hours on ER bench

(Fotolia)

(Fotolia)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:59 PM ET

ST-JEROME, Que. — A man who broke his neck in a diving accident says he spent eight hours in an emergency room north of Montreal without being seen by a doctor, despite the fact he was partially paralyzed.

Bernard Charbonneau was knocked unconscious when he took an errant bad dive into a lake on July 21. He had a fractured a vertebra in his neck, but says the nurses felt that his case wasn't urgent.

He managed to avoid permanent paralysis.

"When I left the water, I immediately felt three numb fingers, and arms," he told QMI Agency.

His sister Julie Charbonneau accompanied him to a hospital in St. Jerome, Que., where he reported what happened to the triage nurse.

Nurses put a neck brace on him but it didn't help. His sister says nurses rebuffed her request for a stretcher.

"She told me, 'Well, ma'am, do like everyone else does, lie him down on the emergency room benches,'" she said.

Bernard didn't see a doctor during his eight-hour wait, and says he went home when he got tired.

The next morning, he went to a clinic where his sister said the doctor couldn't believe the extent of the damage to Charbonneau's neck.

He was immobilized and taken by ambulance to a Montreal hospital where he was diagnosed with a broken C6 neck vertebra.

He and his sister filed an official complaint.

In a letter to Charbonneau, made available to QMI Agency, the Complaints Commissioner at St. Jerome hospital said nurses have been advised to more carefully examine triage patients.


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