At the emergency room, first assess a person’s condition | Protecteur du Citoyen
March 1, 2021

At the emergency room, first assess a person’s condition

Corps

Homme souffrant de douleurs à la poitrine

The complaint

A citizen who was very ill went to a hospital emergency room. However, he was refused care because he did not have his health insurance card. He complained to the Québec Ombudsman.

The context

  • A citizen went to the emergency room. He qualified for public health care, but he did not have his health insurance card on him.
  • Despite his pain, he was told that without his card, he could not be treated.
  • The man went to another hospital, where he was treated for a pulmonary embolism, a dangerous condition that must be dealt with quickly.

What our investigation showed

  • The staff at the first hospital required that visitors present their health insurance card before triage assessment. 
  • This way of proceeding is contrary to the Act respecting health services and social services. Anyone who goes to an emergency room must be triaged, even if the person does not have a health insurance card.

The outcome

The Québec Ombudsman contacted the institution responsible for the care and services provided by the hospital in question. The institution promised that the triage nursing staff would assess anyone who comes to the emergency room, whether or not they have a health insurance card.

This case was taken from our 2019-2020 Annual Report.


The Québec Ombudsman ensures that your rights are upheld in your dealings with Québec public services. Are you dissatisfied with the services of a Government of Québec department or agency? Or with those of a health and social services network institution (2nd level of recourse)? File a complaint with the Québec Ombudsman by calling 1-800-463-5070 or use our online complaint form.