Teresa Scheunert's death 'issue of public safety': family

The family of a Watson Lake, Yukon nurse who died in hospital where she was being treated for back pain, says the inquest into her death, which wraps up Saturday, shows Scheunert didn't have "consistent, safe care" at the hospital.

Week-long inquest into the death of a 47-year-old Watson Lake, Yukon nurse wraps up Saturday

Teresa Scheunert, 47, is shown here with her daughter Crystal Thomas. (Scheunert family)

The family of a Watson Lake, Yukon nurse, who died in the hospital where she worked while being treated for back pain, says the Coroner's inquest into her death shows she didn't have "consistent, safe care" at the hospital.

Teresa Scheunert, 47, died unexpectedly in 2012. Some medicals experts have opposing thoughts about the exact cause of her death, but according to Dr. Walter Martz, a forensic toxicologist who testified at the inquest on Thursday, Scheunert died from the mixed side effects of the drugs she was taking, 

But Scheunert's family says the uncertainty and misinterpretations surrounding her death are why it hopes the recommendations that come out of this week's inquest will be enforced. 

"We regret there seemed to be considerable focus (during the inquest) by hospital and physician lawyers on making Teresa look bad rather than learning from the 'system gaps' about improving care," the family wrote in a letter to the media.

The family of Teresa Scheunert says there was no clear treatment plan for Scheunert, a nurse who died in the Watson Lake, Yukon hospital while being treated for back pain. (CBC )

Scheunert's family says there was no clear care plan for her pain and discomfort, which included problems with her abdomen and spine, as well as tingling and numbness in her legs. 

It also says there was poor documentation of exactly what Scheunert was feeling, and what drugs she was taking. 

"There was inadequate charting and monitoring of Teresa's symptoms of back pain, abdominal distention and numbness and there was no plan at all for monitoring the side effects of the several opioids she was prescribed and administered in hospital."

The family also says it's troublesome that an MRI wasn't immediately ordered for Scheunert, something Dr. Tanis Secerbegovic, who was the only physician on duty in Watson Lake in the months leading up to Scheunert's death, believes was a factor in proper treatment of the patient.

Scheunert's family hopes the inquest, which is expected to wrap up Saturday, will help mitigate any of these problems for future patients.

"Regardless what the final outcome of this inquest may be, there are still many issues that need to be fixed," the family's letter read. 

"All Yukoners are entitled to consistent, safe care that this inquest shows Teresa Scheunert did not receive in Watson Lake Hospital."