Manitoba

Widower suing Deloraine, Man., hospital, medical team for negligence over wife's death

A 51-year-old woman died after her medical team repeatedly gave her overdoses of a powerful painkiller — sometimes up to three times the maximum recommended amount — her husband alleges in a statement of claim filed last week.

Says signs of internal bleeding were ignored leading to Vickie Ann Thomas’s 2017 death

A man says his wife was negligently prescribed the analgesic drug Toradol and blood thinners at the same time. (Getty Images/Science Photo Library)

A 51-year-old woman died after her medical team repeatedly gave her overdoses of a powerful painkiller — sometimes up to three times the maximum recommended amount — her husband alleges in a statement of claim filed last week.

Vickie Ann Thomas showed signs of internal bleeding during the 13 days she was at the Deloraine Health Centre in 2017, including vomit that looked like coffee grounds, the statement filed in Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench on April 24 said.

Her husband of 32 years, Murray Thomas, is now suing the hospital, a doctor and four nurses who provided his wife medical care while she was a patient there. He is seeking damages under the Fatal Accidents of Manitoba Act, which allows people to take legal action if a family member dies because of personal injury or medical malpractice.

The act covers damages for loss of companionship, loss of income and funeral expenses. Spouses, common-law partners, support recipients, parents and children of the deceased can seek $30,000 each, and other family can seek $10,000.

Murray is suing on behalf of himself and five other family members, including their three daughters.

"He lost his wife. These kids lost their mother," said Robert Tapper, the lawyer representing Murray in the lawsuit. "She bled out, essentially … I don't think they paid attention to the appropriate dosages."

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Penny Gilson, CEO of Prairie Mountain Health where the facility is located, said the health authority would not comment on the matter while it is still before the courts.

Doctor prescribed contraindicated drugs: statement

Vickie was diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer after a routine colonoscopy in July 2017, and started chemotherapy within the same month. On Aug. 13, she was taken to the Deloraine Health Centre for treatment after feeling dizzy and vomiting.

The statement alleges that was when Vickie was first prescribed Toradol — also known by its generic name, ketorolac — an analgesic drug with a maximum recommended dose of 40 mg per day that can cause gastrointestinal bleeding with excessive use.

Vickie was given various amounts of the drug — anywhere from 30 mg to 120 mg a day for 10 days — until she died on Aug. 25 of what the hospital death summary described as "gastrointestinal hemorrhage and multisystem organ failure secondary to massive hemorrhage aspiration," the statement said.

She was also prescribed blood thinners such as heparin, which should have been contraindicated because she was taking Toradol at the same time, the statement said.

"This was a direct result of the excessive provision of Toradol, and of the combination of Toradol and blood thinners, together with a failure by the defendants to properly monitor their patient," the statement said.

"The defendants were collectively negligent in their medical treatment of [Vickie] leading to her death."

The statement said nurses' notes related to Vickie's care showed frequent references to signs of extremely low blood pressure and a decrease in blood volume, which it said went ignored by her medical team.

The notes also verified the presence of an abnormally high resting heart rate and "frank blood streaks" in Vickie's vomit, meaning she was bleeding from her mouth — all of which should have been indicators that something was wrong, the statement said.

"All defendants failed to react to the decreasing blood pressure, dizziness, and weak and unbalanced and unsteady observations of Vickie Ann Thomas," the statement said.