Shelly Bunnah and Michael Thornton with a photo of two-year-old Carter who died in May 2018, they say due to a misdiagnosis by a Chilliwack doctor. They presented a petition to MLA Laurie Throness asking to create a no-fault compensation system for medical errors. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Shelly Bunnah and Michael Thornton with a photo of two-year-old Carter who died in May 2018, they say due to a misdiagnosis by a Chilliwack doctor. They presented a petition to MLA Laurie Throness asking to create a no-fault compensation system for medical errors. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

B.C. parents blame medical negligence in toddler’s death

Petition to ask for medical errors to be tracked and no-fault compensation for victims

When Carter Thornton woke up on May 12, 2018, he was his regular, frisky little self.

His mother Shelly Bunnah says the two-year-old was alert and behaving as normal. She says Carter threw his bottle in the sink, before she went downstairs to use the washroom.

In just a few minutes she was back upstairs, and little Carter was gone.

“He was not breathing,” she told The Progress. “I did CPR until the ambulance came. The next day he passed away at BC Children’s Hospital.”

Not only is the death of any child tragic. Carter’s death was tragic and unexpected. But Shelly and her husband, Carter’s father Michael Thornton, think it was preventable, and should not have been unexpected.

“There is medical negligence going on in our community and in our country, not just B.C., it’s all over and it’s about time something changes and people start talking about it,” an emotional Bunnah said.

Carter had his first seizure on July 27, 2017. A local pediatrician said it was most likely epilepsy even though Carter had no history of the condition. Week and months passed before an electroencephalogram (EEG) was ordered despite protestations that Carter be given a CT scan.

When he finally had the EEG in March 2018, it turned up nothing, and the doctor finally agreed to order the CT scan at the end of April 2018. Bunnah said Carter was scheduled for the scan in June, but he died before it could be done.

But she also found out the doctor didn’t order the EEG back in summer of 2017 when it should have been ordered. That wasn’t done until February 2018, a delay she says cost her son his life because he didn’t have epilepsy, he died of meningitis and encephalitis.

“Because of that time lapse, my son is gone, because his lack of compassion and love for my child,” she said. “As a parent, you think they are going to care for them. If he would have put in the requisition in August 2017 we would have had results by November, a CT scan by January and they would have found all of this.”

Bunnah visited Chilliwack-Kent Laurie Throness’s office recently to hand him a petition to bring to the provincial Legislature to ask for two changes in the medical system: that medical errors and misdiagnoses be tracked; and that there be a no-fault compensation system created to help victims of medical errors.

“The third leading cause of death in Canada is medical negligence,” Bunnah said. “It needs to stop happening.”

Bunnah filed a complaint with the BC College of Physicians and Surgeons in January, and they expect a decision in a final report by the end of this year.

In the meantime, Bunnah has her petition, which is a copy of a petition created by retired nurse Teri McGrath in the Okanagan who is advocating for no-fault compensation for victims of medical errors.

“There’s no-fault compensation with ICBC if you are in a car accident,” McGrath said last month. “It doesn’t matter who caused it. But if you are banged up, you get help. That’s what we are looking for in the Canadian medical system.”

• READ MORE: B.C. woman continues fight against preventable medical errors

Back in June, McGrath created an online petition to the federal government Parliament of Canada E-petition website, but a response said, in part, that healthcare is the responsibility of provinces and territories.

In her petition, McGrath takes particular aim at the millions of taxpayer dollars transferred yearly to the Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA), the legal body that “engage[s] patients and families in lengthy, expensive hearings.”

“The CMPA needs to go because they are this safety blanket,” Bunnah said. “[Doctors] know they are not going to have to pay for their lawyer and they know damn well that 90 per cent of people abandon their cases because they can’t afford it.”

Throness accepted Bunnah’s petition and he intends to consult with his colleagues to see who else has received them, so that maybe they can present them to the Legislature together.

“Shelley and her family have experienced an enormous tragedy that will affect them for the rest of their lives, and I will be pleased to present the petition on their behalf,” Throness told The Progress. “Medical errors contribute to harm that Canadians suffer, and they must be reduced.

“The idea of a no-fault compensation system is worthy of further study, and I fully support the reporting of medical errors as a way of discovering patterns of behaviour that can be changed to avoid errors in the future.”

When asked to comment on the case and the broader picture, an Ottawa-based CMPA spokesperson said he could not comment on specific cases and added that no-fault systems likely result in greatly reduced compensation for injured patients or significantly higher system costs.

“Canada’s model is grounded in a tort-based compensation system, which is a relatively inexpensive program compared to other models around the world,” according to Dr. Doug Bell, associate executive director and managing director for Safe Medical Care at the CMPA. “It also seeks to ensure that patients proven to have been injured as a result of negligent care receive appropriate compensation.

“The CMPA recognizes that every form of medical liability protection has areas for improvement and we believe every reasonable effort should be made to improve the current system before undertaking radical and, within the Canadian context, unproven change. To that end, we work with the provincial governments (including that in British Columbia), medical regulatory authorities and others to advocate for sensible system improvements.”

– with a file from Robin Grant, Penticton Western News


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

New changes are being proposed to four streets in James Bay to allow better access for cyclists. Residents have until June 11 to provide feedback. (Black Press Media file photo)
New revisions to James Bay bike lanes open for feedback

Routes on Government and Montreal streets planned for 2022

An elderly man having a medical emergency in Mount Douglas Park on May 13 was rescued by firefighters and paramedics with the help of ATVs. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Rescue team uses ATVs get man in medical distress out of Saanich park and to hospital

Cedarhill Road closed as firefighters, paramedics rescue man in Mount Douglas Park

While recovering several items reported stolen from the set of a Netflix movie in early April, West Shore RCMP also seized drugs and drug trafficking items from a Colwood residence last week. (Black Press Media file photo)
Electronics, credit cards taken from Neflix set found in Colwood home

West Shore RCMP seize stolen items, drugs, trafficking materials

Saanich police used a drone to investigate a fatal crash in the 5200-block of West Saanich Road on Feb. 4, 2021. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Police determine speed, impairment not factors in fatal West Saanich Road crash

Driver who died veered across center line into oncoming traffic for unknown reason, police say

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of May 11

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking on a remote forest road in Naramata on May 10. (Submitted)
Kamloops brothers identified as pair found dead near Penticton

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking

Municipal governments around B.C. have emergency authority to conduct meetings online, use mail voting and spend reserve funds on operation expenses. (Penticton Western News)
Online council meetings, mail-in voting option to be extended in B.C.

Proposed law makes municipal COVID-19 exceptions permanent

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
British Columbians aged 20+ can book for vaccine Saturday, those 18+ on Sunday

‘We are also actively working to to incorporate the ages 12 to 17 into our immunization program’

The AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine. (AP/Eranga Jayawardena)
2nd person in B.C. diagnosed with rare blood clotting after AstraZeneca vaccine

The man, in his 40s, is currently receiving care at a hospital in the Fraser Health region

Canada’s demo Hornet soars over the Strait of Georgia near Comox. The F-18 demo team is returning to the Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Sgt. Robert Bottrill/DND
F-18 flight demo team returning to Vancouver Island for spring training

The team will be in the Comox Valley area from May 16 to 24

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Bow-legged bear returns to Ladysmith, has an appointment with the vet

Brown Drive Park closed as conservation officers search for her after she returned from relocation

Most Read