PROVING THAT INJURIES WERE CAUSED BY NEGLIENCE.
Doctors are found negligent but the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the case due to the plaintiff’s inability to prove that the injuries were primarily caused by the negligence.
Kycree Hanson-Takser suffered severe injuries due to negligence during her birth at Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace, BC in 1996. Kyrcee was born pre-term and showed signs of jaundice, yet she and her mother were discharged from the hospital 42 hours later. Kyrcee was later diagnosed with neonatal hyperbilirubinemia, kernicterus (brain damage resulting from high levels of bilirubin in the blood), and associated severe injuries. These injuries have caused Kyrcee to suffer from hearing impairment, dental decay, choreoathetoid cerebral palsy, and developmental delay for her lifetime.
The case was brought to court almost 20 years after Kyrcee’s birth by Nadine Dray, Kyrcee’s mother and guardian ad litem. The defendants in the case were the attending doctors and nurse, as well as Northern Health Authority and Mills Memorial Hospital.
The plaintiff alleged that the medical care and treatment provided by the defendants during the period between Kyrcee’s birth and transport to Vancouver Children’s Hospital less than eight days later was provided negligently. The defendants, on the other hand, claimed that Nadine failed to follow medical advice and promptly seek medical care for Kyrcee when her condition worsened. They argued that if Nadine had sought appropriate medical care, Kyrcee’s injuries could have been avoided in whole or in part.
During the trial, the Court warned that
“physicians must be judged in light of the knowledge they ought to have reasonably possessed at the time of the alleged act of negligence, not with the benefit of hindsight given prevailing standards of professional knowledge.”
After a 32-day trial, the court found that the defendants’ negligence caused Kyrcee’s injuries and that Nadine’s alleged failure to seek medical care did not contribute to those injuries. The court found that the defendants failed to provide the appropriate standard of care, determining that they should have known that Kyrcree was at risk.
Despite finding the physicians failed to provide an appropriate standard of care, the Supreme Court dismissed the plaintiff’s claim. The dismissal was based on the plaintiff’s inability to prove that Kycree’s injuries were primarily caused by the doctors’ extensive negligence. The Court instead found that the injuries were caused by a hemolytic event that couldn’t be linked directly to the substandard care.
Read the full case here.
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