A British Columbia mother says she won’t give up her fight for accountability, despite a lack of discipline against a doctor who made an error caring for her critically-ill daughter, who later died.
“If a doctor is sending a patient home and found responsible by the (regulator) and she ultimately dies because of it, why is that not enough to lose his licence?” Ann Forry told Global News.
“It’s an absolute slap in the face.”
Ann Forry’s 29-year-old daughter Natasha died of toxic shock in November, 2020.
Despite progressively worsening symptoms, she was sent home from the emergency room at Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver three times, with instructions to come back if things got worse.
After her death, Forry’s mother Ann filed a complaint with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C.
The review that followed singled out the actions of one doctor — who has not been named — finding he should have admitted her to hospital and did not adequately document her reassessment prior to discharging her.
“This was her third visit, and this was pointed out in the report, that why in her third visit was she being sent home with no diagnosis?” Forry said.
“He should have admitted her, and that’s what they said in the report.”
Despite the criticism from the body that regulates B.C. physicians, the only consequence the doctor faced was an interview with the college “to discuss his learnings.”
In a final letter to Forry’s mother, the college wrote that the doctor had “attended for an interview with Registrar staff … to discuss the issues raised by your complaint.
“This satisfies the recommendation made by the Inquiry Committee in its conclusion of the complaint,” it stated.
That result, in Forry’s eyes, is further proof that B.C.’s medical review process, often touted by government as a path toward answers and accountability, is not there to help patients or their families.
Making matters worse, she said the doctor in question tried to appeal the decision against him, though was denied.
“I feel like the process is absolute garbage and it is a waste of time. It is so much retraumatizing for what happened and on and on, and then you have nothing — there is no accountability,” she said.
“So was it worth it? No. But as her mother I had to do something, this is all I’ve got.”
Global News asked the college why no further actions were taken against the doctor, but was told its investigations are protected under privacy law.
Only matters that go before a disciplinary hearing are made public, and doctors have the ability to avoid taking matters that far if they agree with the college’s citation and suggested action.
With the review process now closed, Forry said she’s focusing her quest for accountability on changing B.C.’s wrongful death laws.
Under the province’s current law, wrongful death compensation is tied solely to a person’s future earning potential and families’ ability to seek justice through civil litigation is limited.
Forry said she doesn’t want a payout, but believes the threat of a big penalty could help prevent other families from going through what she did.
“It is about the money and I will tell you why it is about the money,” she said.
“Because if Lions Gate or the doctors actually lost millions of dollars in lawsuits, they would look at retraining those doctors, the hospitals, making sure all the procedures were in place and protect the patients better.”
Attorney General David Eby has committed to reviewing B.C.’s wrongful death legislation by the end of the government’s current term. But a year and a half after Natasha’s death, there has been little movement on the file.
“It’s really frustrating and heartbreaking for me because since Natasha died, there’s at least two other children that I know have that have died because of medical negligence,” Forry said.
“This is what they can look forward to. This is what B.C. medical and health care looks like.”