Parents sue P.E.I. doctors over brain-damaged toddler
Published Friday, August 31, 2012 5:56PM EDT
The parents of a two-year-old girl who suffered severe brain damage as an infant are suing four doctors at a Charlottetown hospital, alleging they provided inadequate care to their daughter last year.
Melissa Driscoll and Danny Roche allege that the negligence of doctors at Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s emergency room left their daughter Emma with serious neurological damage and she is now dependent on round-the-clock care.
The parents were emotional while sharing details of their lawsuit during a news conference Friday in Charlottetown, which also names the Prince Edward Island government as a defendant.
“My family has been living a nightmare from which it will never wake up,” Driscoll said as she recounted the January 2011 trip to the hospital with her daughter.
Eight months old at the time, Emma had a fever and a cough. Her breathing was also coarse. Driscoll took the infant to the hospital right away.
“Like any first-time mother, when my baby daughter got a fever for the first time, I was afraid,” Driscoll said.
“I wasn’t taking any chances so I took her to the emergency room.”
A doctor who saw Emma diagnosed the baby with a respiratory infection, prescribed some medication and sent her home.
But her condition worsened and her parents took her back to the hospital two more times in the following 24 hours, where she was seen by different doctors.
The last trip to the hospital was a harrowing one, Driscoll and Roche said.
“Within minutes of being there she went completely blue,” Driscoll said. “If we hadn't brought her back she would have died at home.”
Emma had gone into respiratory arrest and her heart stopped breathing. Doctors managed to revive her before she was airlifted to a Halifax hospital.
Driscoll said she was later told her daughter would have severe neurological damage.
The family’s lawyer, Raymond Wagner, also alleges that medical equipment at Queen Elizabeth Hospital was “malfunctioning and was not able to be used in an urgent manner.”
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
In a statement to CTV News, Queen Elizabeth Hospital said its lawyers and private insurer are dealing with the matter. Hospital officials declined further comment.
According to a local newspaper report, the provincial government has filed a statement of defence, saying Emma was provided with “a reasonable and appropriate level of care” at all times. The government denies that physician negligence played any part in the child’s injuries.
The statement of defence also says Emma’s parents consented to all treatments and procedures she underwent at the hospital, but did not follow medical advice.
Wagner said the girl’s parents would like to see a quick resolution so they can focus on caring for their daughter.
With a report from CTV Atlantic’s Jonathan MacInnis