Health institutions must fulfill their responsibilities concerning patients’ personal belongings | Protecteur du Citoyen
February 1, 2021

Health institutions must fulfill their responsibilities concerning patients’ personal belongings

Corps

Key in a lock

The complaint

When he got to the hospital, a man put his clothing in a locker. Later, he discovered that the clothing had disappeared. The institution responsible for the care and services provided by the hospital declined any responsibility. The man complained to the Québec Ombudsman. 

The context

  • A citizen went to a hospital for day surgery. He put his clothing in a locker that did not have a padlock. 
  • After his surgery, the man saw that his clothing had disappeared. Despite his and the staff’s efforts, it was not found.
  • The institution responsible for the care and services provided by the hospital concerned declined all responsibility. Note that users are informed that they are responsible for their personal belongings.

What our investigation showed

  • None of the lockers made available to the citizen had a lock.
  • In the Québec Ombudsman’s opinion, the institution had certain obligations. Granted, people must be informed about the risk of keeping personal belongings with them, but they must also be given somewhere safe to store them.

The outcome

Given the Québec Ombudsman’s recommendations, the institution agreed to:

  • put lockers with padlocks available to people in for day surgery;
  • remove its liability exclusion clause for this department;
  • reimburse the citizen for the lost clothing.

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.