Jan – Mar 2015: Nanaimo, BC
A doctor at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital arbitrarily and unlawfully revoked the decision-making authority of a patient’s son after the son asked that the patient’s pain medication be reviewed. The doctor was prescribing multiple opioids (e.g. morphine, fentanyl) to the patient recovering from leg amputation, an injury caused when the patient was hit by a food cart. The patient acquired bedsores due to inadequate care, and suffered severe drug-related side effects. Despite protests by the son, and warnings of over-medication by other doctors, opioids were prescribed in ever-increasing amounts. In one incident, 10 times the prescribed methadone dose was administered. Nurses withheld food and water. Two weeks later the patient died, heavily sedated and emaciated (i.e., “comfort care” program).
The decision by the BC College of Physicians and Surgeons stated that they were “supportive of the care provided”, and “offered no criticism in regard to a medication error that occurred in the patient’s methadone dosing; the error was disclosed appropriately and documented.” The College said it was acceptable for Dr. Robin Love to revoke the decision-maker’s authority if the doctor and the decision-maker disagreed about recommended treatment (ignoring the laws regarding autonomy and informed consent). BC College of Physicians and Surgeons response available here: http://bit.ly/23kiVmQ