Nova Scotia

Missed methadone checkup could have saved daughter's life, says mother

Laura Martin's body was found more than a week after she failed to pick up her prescription.

Laura Martin's body was found more than a week after she failed to pick up her prescription

Laura Martin, 37, died by suicide after she failed to pick up her methadone prescription. (Kevin D. Liles/Associated Press)

A grieving Dartmouth, N.S., mother says her 37-year-old daughter's death could have been prevented if someone had followed up with her after she missed picking up her methadone treatment.

Laura Martin's body was found by police Sept. 21. She had killed herself. Her mother, Theresa Babb, said police told her "flags went up" when Martin didn't pick up her prescription. 

"If someone had called me or tried to reach Laura and then called me, Laura would unquestionably be alive today," Babb told CBC Radio's Maritime Noon in an interview Monday.

11 days later

"To my knowledge, that's the only time Laura missed picking up her methadone," said Babb. "Laura's opioid addiction was something she had well under control while she was a client with the methadone program for the last 16 or 17 years."

Laura Martin is shown in an undated image. (Submitted by Theresa Babb)
The last time the two spoke was Sept. 10, Babb said, the day Martin was due to pick up her methadone. Babb said Martin's neighbours told her the last time they saw her was Sept. 18. That's when she suspects Martin died.

Babb said it wasn't until Sept. 21 that she received a call from the mental health mobile crisis intervention team asking her when she last spoke to her daughter.

When Babb asked why the mental health mobile crisis team was calling her, they wouldn't tell her. Martin's body was found later that day.

'I don't know why they didn't call sooner'

Babb said too much time and too little action happened between when her daughter missed picking up her methadone and when her body was found.

"They didn't have an issue calling me when they thought she was deceased. I don't know why they didn't call sooner to ask if I had heard from her," Babb said. "If I had known that she had missed a pickup I would have gone immediately to her apartment to find out what was going on."

Babb said her daughter didn't own a phone.

No automatic followups

Martin was in the Nova Scotia Health Authority's opioid treatment program.

The health authority said it couldn't comment on Martin's case for confidentiality reasons, but told CBC News there isn't a followup automatically when someone fails to pick up their prescribed opioid agonist. 

Babb is now trying to get a copy of Martin's health record to see if any steps were missed. Babb said she hopes to spare another family the heartache her family has endured.

"If I see something there that suggests that somebody missed going to check on her after she missed her pickup and if it should have been within that eight-day window, I think there's got to be some attention and there's got to be some accountability," Babb said.

With files from CBC Radio's Maritime Noon