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.