Family still looking for justice after Faye Carter died at QEH in 2008

Jim Day
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Lawyer argues for release of external review in woman’s untimely death

A family’s pursuit of accountability - and justice - continues more than five years after the disturbing death of a woman at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown.

The often-plodding nature of litigation is evident in the case of 55-year-old Faye Carter, who died at the QEH in Charlottetown after waiting more than 18 hours for surgery while fecal matter poisoned her body.

The suit is against three doctors involved in the care and treatment of Carter as well as against the hospital.

Joshua Santimaw, the lawyer handling the lawsuit, told The Guardian last week the claim against the QEH and Dr. Barry Fleming, Dr. Ayodeji Harris-Eze and Dr. John Goodwin continues.

However, he would not hazard a guess as to if or when the lawsuit might get to court.

Actually Santimaw, a Halifax lawyer who specializes in civil litigation, was in court Wednesday but only with the hope of gaining additional ammunition for the suit.

He presented a case before Supreme Court of P.E.I. Justice Benjamin Taylor to access a report by an Ontario doctor hired by the province four years ago to carry out an external review of Carter’s death.

Santimaw believes the report, prepared by Dr. Norman Hill, would likely include a number of findings in fact that deal specifically with Carter’s care and subsequent death at the QEH.

“My client should be entitled to see those findings,’’ he told the court.

Counsel for the province countered that the Health Services Act protects disclosure of the report because it falls under the category of a systemic quality improvement activity review.

In other words, counsel argued, the hospital does not have to release the report.

Taylor has six months to rule on the request to have the report released, but noted he would work to reach a decision as soon as possible.

The lawsuit was filed on Carter’s behalf by her son, Greg Jones and his wife Rachel. Both were in court Wednesday but deferred comment to their lawyer when approached by The Guardian to grant an interview.

Rachel has spoken to The Guardian in the past to convey family’s frustration, anger and grief over the manner in which Carter died.

Doctors had told family of Carter that she was going to make a full recovery after a routine bowel operation in October 2008. Two weeks later she was dead.

After pouring over thousands of pages of medical records and hospital notes, Jones said in an interview in 2010 that the family discovered a hospital that was ill-equipped, understaffed and lacking the compassion needed to save somebody who meant the world to them.

“We were in shock, we were in complete and utter shock,’’ Rachel said at the time.

“This woman was 55...she shouldn’t have died from this surgery. This should not have killed her.’’

While Carter died in November 2008, the hospital only ordered an external review in June 2010 - nearly two years after her death.

In the meantime, the family filed a complaint with the College of Physicians and Surgeons. The college said the doctor did nothing wrong.

Counsel for the QEH told the court Wednesday that the hospital has “attempted to be as transparent as possible’’ noting Carter’s hospital chart and autopsy report were both released to family and three meetings were conducted between hospital representatives and family members.

jday@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/PEIGuardian

 

 

 

 

Organizations: College of Physicians, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, The Guardian Supreme Court Health Services

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Halifax, Ontario

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Recent comments

  • Ray
    March 06, 2014 - 08:59

    The hospital and the province must step up and allow the family to move forward. The delays and walls put up to deny culpability is criminal and should be addressed by the court. I know how much Faye Carter suffered. I survived my bowels separating after surgery in the USA. I'm grateful I survived, the ordeal is more than a bad memory, but I'm here to talk about it.

  • I Know Only Too Well!
    March 04, 2014 - 09:52

    I can sympathize with the family in this case only too well!! In 2012, I lost my brother at the age of 54 after having a routine operation to fix a broken hip. He never regained consciousness after the operation and passed 10 days later. The QEH and its staff (with a few exceptions) showed us no compassion, gave us conflicting or no answers at all – it was terrible. After he passed, we wanted answers and had a fight just to get his medical reports. If you want to be transparent – release the information needed to get the answers deserved. Greg and Rachel should have been given the report without asking – let alone having to sue for it. It is hard to trust in a health care system that claims to want to be transparent but does everything it can to prevent it. Hopefully the Judge in this case can show decency and compassion and order the QEH to do what it should have done in the first place!!!

    • exit poll
      March 04, 2014 - 16:48

      Ditto. + in MOMoriam - Room 813, QEH, Monday, December 6, 2004.

  • Ashley
    March 03, 2014 - 17:54

    There needs to be justice. I know my aunt will do anything and everything in her power to get it, because her and my family deserve it at the very least. It shouldn't have happened the way that it did. The whole system is corrupt and something NEEDS to be done about it.

  • Islander
    March 03, 2014 - 15:05

    I hope this family gets a good ending to this soon it is hard enough losing their mother without this. In my opinion when it comes to lawyers and the law in any case they handle they all just drag everything out to fill their own pockets .

  • Gone for Good
    March 03, 2014 - 12:56

    Certainly it is wrong that things like this take forever to settle. Clearly in this case it's a battle of attrition by the Province, hoping the family will give up or run out of money to get answers. The collusion between professionals on PEI (Dr's and Lawyers) is certainly an issue. Just try to get a PEI lawyer to take even the clearest case of poor health care. The bigger issue here is the terrible care available in PEI. We left PEI for this very reason a few years ago and in a case that almost mirrors this tragic story in both details and the time it happened. Fortunately as soon as the patient was able (barely) to travel, we left PEI on a one way trip, never to return. As soon as our case was seen by a properly trained specialist in another province, the issues that had lingered for many years, were solved in a matter of days and that person is now a healthy and productive. The new specialist who solved the issues, felt that the PEI treatment was both inept and misinformed. Staffing levels are certainly one issue. Up to date procedures not being available are most certainly another (many tests and procedures are not available or allowed in PEI. For example, in a heart attack case, just try to get a dye test done like you can elsewhere. You can't because it's not available). Another is substandard, out of touch with current practices and training or simply unavailable specialists to handle several health situations. (No up to date GI specialist on PEI that is taking patients (Dr .Hoare is full), Dr Clark is a joke. No Vascular surgeon on PEI. When Dr. Peter Midgley left (due to overload), many patients now face possible death because those services are hours away in NB or NS. Far too few Cancer specialists and the list goes on). Residents of PEI face serious issues if they have much more than a case of the flu. My advice would be the second you realize something more than a routine issue is happening with your body, move off island to save yourself. Calling PEI health care 3rd world class would be a compliment IMO. I keep an eye on the happenings in PEI but will never return home due to the incredible risk of living in a province that basically has an incompetent health care system from the very top to the bottom. (yes letters to the Dept of Health have remained unanswered)

    • LCB
      March 04, 2014 - 01:38

      My sentiments EXACTLY. My Mother was riddled with excruciating pain for months in hospital before she died only to find out she had gout....which 7 doctors missed.They tried to tell us that she developed it suddenly near the end of her last days.......but I know they just missed it. We lived in Ontario for a few years and her health conditions were remarked on by her Dr's there.All they would say was that they wished they had seen Mom 20 years earlier. I am coutning the days until I can get off this Island again. HATE living here.....

  • citizen
    March 03, 2014 - 12:32

    Seriously, what ever happened to the time the medical society said Doctors were going to issue apologies or their mistake without acknowledging guilt? An apology can go a long way. It cannot fix the problem but acknowledging wrongdoing could initiate healing. Questionable cover ups and dissing the loved ones is detrimental to all of us patients and citizens of P.E.I Word spreads. People do talk and compare notes and patients are becoming more informed. Sometimes certain names are repeated. Sometimes not positively. If there is a problem with certain medical staff then perhaps something constructive should be done. Health and care ......healthcare.

  • citizen
    March 03, 2014 - 12:31

    Seriously, what ever happened to the time the medical society said Doctors were going to issue apologies or their mistake without acknowledging guilt? An apology can go a long way. It cannot fix the problem but acknowledging wrongdoing could initiate healing. Questionable cover ups and dissing the loved ones is detrimental to all of us patients and citizens of P.E.I Word spreads. People do talk and compare notes and patients are becoming more informed. Sometimes certain names are repeated. Sometimes not positively. If there is a problem with certain medical staff then perhaps something constructive should be done. Health and care ......healthcare.

  • It Is Wrong
    March 03, 2014 - 06:56

    It is wrong the way civil litigation is dragged on in this province . Insurance companies all do it & get away with it , they drag their feet until the people involved are desperate and settle for less than they should be getting . This only hurts the people that are suffering & trying to get their life back in order while dealing with the pain associated from the accident . We need a law that force lawyers & insurance companies to settle these cases in a more timely manner . In a lot of cases the people involved are dead before the settlement is made . Totally wrong and only good for lawyers & insurance companies , not the person suffering the pain .

    • fairplay
      March 03, 2014 - 10:16

      In these situations, as in divorce and other legal matters, especially ones that go to court, the winners are never the plaintiff, or the defendant. The winners are people who lose nothing and gain their salary while this all drags out. You are right, "It is Wrong", and it's high time legislation was brought into law to force these issues to be dealt with in a manner timely to the plaintiff(s) and the defendant(s), as they deserve answers before they are dead, or lives forever ruined by stress and the financial burden of standing up for their rights.