Friday, September 20, 2013

September 20, 2013, Guest Blogger - Laurie Willis-Rhodes


I asked my wyf to be guest blogger this week, given what I posted last week.

The following piece was written by my wyf after I requested that she put her 2 cents in.  I only edited this for clarity and I did not add anything: these are her words and her voice.

Adrian came out of his lithotripsy procedure around 4 p.m. on September 14 at St. Michael’s Hospital, and he didn't leave Markham-Stouffville Hospital until about 4:30 p.m. on September 15.

We left St. Mike's maybe around 4:30 or 5. We went across the street to Fran's because at this point he hadn't eaten for 18-24 hours. We ate, he took some home and headed to our apartment in Markham.

We got in the door just before 8 p.m. Within minutes he was screaming in pain. I called TelehealthOntario and they told me call an ambulance. I did and we were taken to Markham-Stouffville in an ambulance that had no pain meds and as it wasn't an emergency, we stopped at every stop light. As soon as he got into the ER, Adrian was told "Screaming in pain won't make you get the pain medication any faster." I checked him in and found him in the very last room of the ER with the door half shut, still in pain. People would periodically check in on him but apparently the only thing he was given was a sedative, no pain medication. In this period, St. Mike's was contacted but said "they don't do follow-up". So their procedure left this guy screaming in pain and they leave him to his own devices or to the ER that is lucky enough to have to take him in. I actually called St. Mike's after this to ask what the hell they were going to do about my husband being in that kind of pain after their procedure, but that didn't get me anywhere.

Just after 3 a.m., with Adrian still in significant pain, a nurse we had seen before came in and said that since they had done some testing and since he hadn't gone to the washroom, his bladder was about to burst and would he like them to insert a catheter? Now he was panicking. He said yes. He warned the nurse that he was very instinctive so if they attempted to do this, they were going to have to give him something to sedate him; otherwise, he would fight them, even though logically he knew the catheter was the best thing to do.

A doctor came in a few minutes later and asked "Do you want us to insert a catheter?" That's when he got angry. He said "You told me this was a done deal and now you're asking if I want it?" To paraphrase, this was apparently the only way to solve the problem so even if he didn't really want it, he had to have it, and now they're asking if he wants it?  No, he wants his bladder to explode, sounds like fun!

Then the doctor said that Adrian had threatened the nurse with violence and wanted to know why. He was incredulous! He said (paraphrasing) he had told the nurse he knew himself well enough to know that he would try to fight them and forewarned them to make sure he wouldn't be able to fight it, then do what they had to do. I agreed and said he hadn't threatened anybody, he was just telling them to do their due diligence in getting the procedure done.

After she left, he asked me if he had been abusive, had he sworn at anyone, had he done anything to make them think he would hurt someone? I said no, you explained what you needed before the procedure was done, that was all. At that point, Adrian started banging his arms on the gurney. I kept trying to stop him and he wouldn't. I was afraid that he would end up breaking his arms or concuss himself. After a couple of minutes of this, I walked out of the triage area of the ER area and begged someone to go in there to give him something to help calm him down. I said he had been in pain since 8 p.m. the previous day and I couldn't watch him suffer anymore. I was sobbing uncontrollably. When a nurse calmed me down a little, she told me to go and find the vending machines and get myself something and take a walk. I felt like a piece of crap leaving him but I couldn't watch it anymore; it was breaking my heart and felt powerless to do anything.

I came back a few minutes later. Adrian was sitting up, they wouldn't need to put the catheter in or do anything else drastic; they had given him morphine! The morphine had eased the pain somewhat and he was able to go to the bathroom, so the catheter wouldn't be necessary.

There was still a bit of a comedy of errors because I was given forms to fill out so that he could stay in the hospital at about 11 a.m. or noon, and he still didn't have a room at about 4:30 or 5 p.m. when I left, but he was better. They tried to wean him off the morphine and the pain would get a lot worse. I also think they released him too soon.

Subsequently, I sent letters of complaint to both St. Mike's and Markham-Stouffville about this. I didn't get much of a response from St. Mike's. Markham-Stouffville eventually (about two months after I sent the complaint) contacted Adrian. He came in for a meeting and made the woman write out his letter of complaint instead of photocopying it. He also found out from numerous people that when they walked into an ER complaining of kidney stone pain, they didn't even get a chance to finish the statement and they were given morphine. So why did it take almost seven hours in an ER just outside of the largest city in Canada and a "violent episode" to get morphine?

Adrian here:

For the record, St Mike’s ombudsthingy got back to me – I don’t remember when – after this and the following message was left on the answerphone: “I’m calling from the ombudsman’s office of St Mikes.  I would appreciate it if you would call me back so we can discuss your care…”  Wow.  Ballsy.


  1. I am so sorry that your wfy had to go through this. It is so painful to see the one you love in pain and there is nothing you can do about it. LaVada

  2. That just sounds like pure and simple malpractice. Why did the ambulance stop at the stop lights (duh!) And if your bladder was going to burst, I'm sure what ever papers you signed upon admission should have allowed them to treat you.

    My gosh, even the vet sends animals home with pain meds after surgeries...are humans not as valuable in Canada, or do they just not want to shoulder the expense of the drugs (which I KNOW most are NOT expensive)

  3. LaVada: thank you for the sympathy. As one friend says, it shows that I have a good wife. Donna: malpractice up here is a little more tricky. I'll have to write a post about it. Essentially, as I understand it, you sign your rights away as part of being treated. **I could be wrong on this one** A.


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