An elderly Vancouver woman was branded “violent” by Vancouver Coastal Health after what she says was one incident involving her husband during a treatment in December 2012.
Since the incident, 77-year-old Marilyn Husdon says all of her hospital ID has borne a “V”, alerting VCH staff to her status and, Hudson says, causing her to be treated differently.
Following inquiries by CBC News, Vancouver Coastal Health decided late Tuesday afternoon to remove the "V" from Husdon's file.
Husdon, who suffers from multiple medical issues including lymphoma, severe allergies and – at the time of the incident – was recovering from a painful case of shingles, was at Vancouver General Hospital receiving her monthly infusion of a drug called Gammaguard, prescribed to boost her immune system.
The dispute which led to the “violent” patient designation arose from Husdon’s concern over the rate at which she received the drug.
VGH says the transfusion protocol must be done in four hours to avoid infection, but Husdon says she suffers bad reactions if the infusion is administered at the protocol rate. She believes it is medically safe for it to be administered more slowly.
At the December 2012 infusion, Husdon says she was sleeping through the treatment, but was wakened by a disturbance.
“I was asleep, and then the next thing I know, I hear all this commotion,” she says.
Her husband, Raymond, was arguing with a nurse who had stopped the infusion at four hours, despite there being more of the drug left in the IV bag.
Raymond admits he lost his temper with the nurse.
“She said, ‘This is what I am doing’,” Raymond recalls. “And I said, ‘Why are you being such a bitch?’”
Husdon also admits she questioned the nurse over ending the infusion.
She says she told the nurse she felt bullied.
“I said, ‘I feel as though you are bullying me’.”
The nurse called security.
One incident is all it takes
Vancouver Coastal Health policy around patient violence and aggression is clear, says the authority’s director of public affairs, Gavin Wilson.
“Yelling, insulting, swearing – that’s all it would take,” he says of the flagging policy.
“According to eye witness reports and medical charts, both the patient and her husband were involved in verbal aggression, and that’s why she received the flag on her file,” he says.
Husdon's cardiologist told CBC News she's never been violent or verbally aggressive with him. And, both her rheumatologist and GP told CBC they have written to health officials, expressing outrage that she was labelled violent.
According to Wilson, the designation can be removed if a change of behaviour is noted in subsequent encounters, particularly if the original concern was purely verbal aggression.
He says Husdon was offered guidelines as to how that might be achieved, including that her husband not be in the room during her treatment.
Instead, Husdon has chosen to drive to Lions Gate hospital for the past 18 months – without incident - for her infusions. She says there, staff give her the time she needs for the infusion – generally just eight minutes over the four hours.
Earlier Tuesday, Wilson told CBC it may be appropriate to review Husdon’s case.
“Time has passed since then, so I think it’s probably time for a reassessment.”
'We have control'
The “violent” designation came as a complete shock to Husdon, who says she feels punished for questioning a nurse.
And the "V" on her chart has, she said, influenced how she has been treated by medical staff, something VCH refutes.
“All of it boils down to one thing: we’ll show you we have control,” she says.
“You really are looked at as a bad person.”