A man who was injured in Yellowknife claims Stanton Territorial Hospital waited too long before sending him to a specialist who may have been able to save his arm.

Wayne Laite had been working as a mechanic at Polar Tech for over a year when co-worker dropped a snowmobile on his forearm two days before Christmas in 2010.

Three and a half years later, Laite says he can't sleep, walk or use his left arm today because of burning, aching pain.

“It's been pretty mean to live with. And with one doctor saying, ‘Yeah, it was left too long’ and still it's no fault of nobody's, just throw me back with barely enough to live on, it's so unfair.”

Laite says immediately following his accident, he went through four months of excruciating physiotherapy at Stanton Hospital.

Brenda FitzGerald

Brenda FitzGerald, CEO of Stanton, says the hospital has someone on staff to help people investigate concerns about their care. (CBC)

In April, he says a surgeon at Stanton then operated on his hand. He says he suffered multiple post operative infections after that, requiring extensive antibiotic therapy and painful needles that drained fluid from around his elbow.

Four months after the surgery in August of 2011, Stanton sent him to a nerve specialist in Calgary.

Laite says the specialist performed emergency surgery, but told him the operation was too late and he wasn't able to repair the damaged nerves. He was left with CRPS, or chronic regional pain syndrome.

“He said due to your age and the length of time you've been left without having this tended to, he said I can't guarantee nothing. And I went back three months later and he said the CRPS had set in before I had the surgery.”

Laite believes if he'd seen the specialist sooner, he wouldn't have suffered the nerve damage he lives with today.

Brenda FitzGerald, CEO of Stanton Territorial Hospital, says she can't comment on Laite's specific case.

She says the hospital has someone on staff to help people investigate concerns, complaints and issues about their care.

FitzGerald says the quality and risk management coordinator is a role that exists at Stanton and in many health and social services authorities across the territory. That person is there to help patients get answers to questions about what happened with his or her care, and why.

"It serves a patient advocate or patient representative role to assist the patient in getting answers around their care. We also have clinical leads and managers of service that would support that individual in doing the investigation," she says. 

Fitzgerald says another option for people when they have issues with their care is to talk directly with their physician.

But Laite says that won't help. He wants someone to answer for the arm, and the quality of life, he no longer has.

"I didn't ask for this. I was working. I've worked all my life. This was an accident."