The high commissioner of Cameroon is suing the Ottawa Hospital and four of its doctors for $30 million, alleging malpractice and negligence by staff there led to his wife suffering brain damage and losing her limbs.
Mercy Azoh-Mbi, a geologist married to Solomon Azoh-Mbi, the ambassador for Cameroon, now requires round-the-clock care at the Cameroon Embassy and is barely able to move or speak.
She was admitted to Ottawa Hospital's Civic Campus emergency room in October 2009, complaining of body aches and saying she felt weak and feverish. Within 72 minutes of arriving, she was sent home with Tamiflu medication, the couple's statement of claims says.
But it was a misdiagnosis, the document alleges, and the patient was actually suffering from endocarditis — an inflammation of an inner chamber of her heart. The condition often arises following a mitral valve replacement, a procedure that she had undergone in 2004.
Early detection can prevent crippling effects. But by the time the couple knew what was really wrong, it was too late, they allege in their statement of claim. Mercy's arms and legs were amputated to prevent further infection days after her initial trip to the ER.
Alleges patient not treated 'in a timely manner'
"The plaintiffs state that had Mercy's endocarditis been identified and appropriately treated … in a timely manner … 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 unstable to undergo a surgical replacement of her damaged mitral valve," the document states.
The ambassador claims to have mentioned the 2004 mitral valve replacement during a physical examination by a Ottawa Hospital doctor, named in the suit as Dr. Bruce Cload.
"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's condition worsened upon being initially discharged. Two days later, spots appeared on her hands and the soles of her feet. She was unable to eat and was extremely fatigued, the statement of claim says.
It was at this point that Solomon contacted an American doctor, who urged that she be admitted to hospital as soon as possible and could be possibly suffering from endocarditis. In the intensive care unit in hospital, she had lost the feeling in her hands and feet, according to the suit.
"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 statement continues.
The couple, who declined to comment, are claiming $25 million for future care costs, $2 million for medical bills and $3 million to cover future loss of income, as Mercy is unlikely to be able to work again.
Officials at Ottawa Hospital would only say they planned to defend themselves in court.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.