21/03/2011 15:28:25
Cameroon diplomat sues Ottawa hospital after wife loses arms, legs
Cameroon’s high commissioner is suing an Ottawa hospital for malpractice and negligence after his wife was sent home from the emergency room with flu medication only to later deteriorate from an undetected condition to the point where surgeons had to amputate her arms and legs.
Ottawa Citizen
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Cameroon’s high commissioner is suing an Ottawa hospital for malpractice and negligence after his wife was sent home from the emergency room with flu medication only to later deteriorate from an undetected condition to the point where surgeons had to amputate her arms and legs.

The trouble began on the morning of Oct. 23, 2009, when Mercy Azoh-Mbi, a geologist, suddenly felt feverish and weak. She was transported to hospital by ambulance and registered at the Ottawa Hospital’s Civic Campus emergency room at 2:08 p.m., according to the $30-million statement of claim.

The high commissioner, Solomon Azoh-Mbi, brought along information about his wife’s medical history, including the fact she had had a mitral valve replacement in 2004.

He has not responded to several requests for an interview.

“At or around 3 p.m., Mercy was seen by an emergency department physician, Dr. Bruce Cload,” the statement of claim says. “Dr. Cload was advised of Mercy’s recent history of sudden onset of fever, muscle aches and a general feeling of being unwell, as well as her earlier history of a mitral valve replacement”.

“Following a physical examination, Dr. Cload assessed Mercy as likely suffering from influenza and prescribed Tamiflu medication. Mercy was discharged from hospital at or around 3:20 p.m. Before his wife was discharged, Solomon specifically asked Dr. Cload if he had taken Mercy’s heart condition into account and Dr. Cload answered that he had taken it into account,” the statement says.

Mercy Azoh-Mbi now requires around-the-clock care.

In the suit, the Ottawa Hospital and four doctors are named as defendants.

Most of the amount sought, $25 million, is to cover the costs for personal attendants, medication and prosthetic devices she will need for the rest of her life.

The ambassador’s wife, also a plaintiff, was in and out of the hospital within an hour and 12 minutes, and sent home as another routine flu patient, the statement of claim continues.

But her condition was anything but routine, and that night she deteriorated fast. She couldn’t sleep and the next day she couldn’t eat.

She was in fact suffering from endocarditis, a disease long associated with mitral valve replacement patients and traditionally considered a top priority to diagnose quickly for its crippling effects.

By Oct. 25, 2009, the ambassador’s wife was fatigued and had developed spots on her hands and the soles of her feet.

Her husband called a U.S. doctor for advice and was told she could be suffering from endocarditis and that she should be admitted to hospital immediately.

She was admitted to the intensive care unit but she was now too unstable for surgery.

She was shutting down and had lost sensation in both feet and hands.

The statement of claim says that despite a constant risk of further infection, the decision to amputate was deferred to allow improvement.

“In addition to the loss of her four limbs, Mercy has also experienced permanent brain injury which has left her with residual difficulties with speech processing and information processing,” the claim states.

The statement of claim also cites a future loss of income of $3 million because the ambassador’s career will now be limited to postings where his wife can get proper medical care. This part of the claim also notes that Mercy will not be able to return to work as a geologist and will require medical and physical therapy for the rest of her life.

“The plaintiffs state that had Mercy’s endocarditis been identified and appropriately treated following her presentation to hospital on Oct. 23, 2009 or, alternatively, in a timely manner, following her attendance at hospital on Oct. 25, 2009, she would not have suffered the severe and extensive damage that occurred as a direct consequence of her endocarditis being allowed to evolve to the point that she was too unstable to undergo a surgical replacement of her damaged mitral valve”.

“The plaintiffs state that Mercy’s brain injury and the loss of her four extremities as well as her extended period of hospitalization and the complications that occurred during the course of that extended period of hospitalization are all a direct result of one or more of the following: Dr. Bruce Cload, Dr. Mathieu Gatien, Dr. Sunita Mulpuru and various members of the staff in the emergency department of the Ottawa Hospital, Civic Campus, for whose negligence the Ottawa Hospital is in law responsible, being those directly responsible for ensuring the prompt care and treatment of Mercy during the course of her two attendances at the emergency department,” the lawsuit claims.

None of the allegations has been proven in court. The Ottawa Hospital filed a notice of intent to defend on Jan. 21. Officials declined to comment.

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