Mom says child lucky to be alive after repeated misdiagnoses at Cape Dorset health centre

A mother in Cape Dorset, Nunavut, says she brought her child to the local health centre five times before finally taking her on a flight to Iqaluit, where she was diagnosed with a burst appendix.

4-year-old diagnosed with burst appendix after grudgingly sent to hospital in Iqaluit, says mom

Mialia Adla says her four-year-old daughter was misdiagnosed repeatedly at the Cape Dorset health centre before reluctantly being sent to hospital in Iqaluit where she underwent emergency surgery for a burst appendix. (Submitted by Mialia Adla)

A mother in Cape Dorset, Nunavut, says her child is lucky to be alive after her burst appendix was repeatedly misdiagnosed at the local health centre.

"I knew there was a serious medical issue because she obviously wouldn't be so ill, if she was in good health, she wouldn't be so sick," said Mialia Adla in Inuktitut.

"I sent her to the health centre repeatedly because it was not fine."

During a tearful interview with CBC, Adla said more than a week and a half ago she took her four-year-old daughter to the health centre after noticing she was in extreme pain. Adla said a nurse told her it was an ear infection and gave her antibiotics.

"The second time we went she had a fever, so they gave her Tylenol and Motrin," said Adla. 

"But because she was eating fine and still urinating fine, they told us that all is well. The third time I went with my daughter, they told us that she was constipated."

No medevac provided

Adla says, in all, she took her daughter to the health centre five times, the last time on Sunday. She asked for her to be medevaced to hospital in Iqaluit, but said the nurse she spoke to was very reluctant to authorize the trip.

"The nurse blatantly asked me, 'Why should I send you,'" said Adla. "I had to speak up and tell her again in a more forceful way…it was only then that we were allowed to come to Iqaluit."

The mother says, even then, she and her daughter were not medevaced. They had to wait for a scheduled flight the next day.

Mialia Adla's four-year-old daughter is recovering in hospital after undergoing emergency surgery for a burst appendix. She is expected to make a full recovery. (Submitted by Mialia Adla)

"The nurse told me that my daughter is just constipated and told me that is what the doctors in Iqaluit will tell us anyway," Adla said.

When they arrived, doctors in Iqaluit said her daughter's appendix had likely burst more than two weeks earlier, Adla said. She said they told her her daughter would not have had a fever if she was suffering from constipation.

The little girl underwent emergency surgery in Iqaluit. She is expected to make a full recovery.

It is not the first time the quality of care at the Cape Dorset health centre has been called into question. A baby died in 2012 after a nurse reportedly refused to treat the child. The nurse, who no longer works there, was the subject of numerous complaints from people going to the centre for health care.

Nunavut health officials refused to comment on Adla's daughter, saying they do not talk about specific medical cases. They said any time residents are concerned with their health care or require assistance, they can contact the health department.

With files from Michael Salomonie