CTV News: B.C. mom wants justice after daughter dies from undiagnosed infection, despite multiple hospital visits

As seen on CTV News Vancouver by Angela Jung, 21st December 2020

VANCOUVER — A grieving Vancouver mother wants to know why her 29-year-old daughter was sent home from hospital repeatedly when she had a deadly infection.

“It’s truly heartbreaking. I’m still in shock,” Ann Forry told CTV News. “The loss of my only child at 29 – it shouldn’t happen.”

Forry alleges Lions Gate Hospital failed to properly diagnose and treat her daughter Natasha’s worsening symptoms, caused by a staph infection that ultimately killed her.

The family’s tragic story began on Oct. 2, when Natasha went to hospital with concerns about a cyst on her leg that had become enlarged and needed draining.

For a few days after the visit, everything seemed normal. But on Oct. 9, Natasha was experiencing some pain in her abdomen and went to a walk-in clinic, which told her to head to the emergency room.

Forry said the hospital took some blood work, a CT scan and an X-ray and determined Natasha had some swollen lymph nodes in her stomach.

She was sent home with some pain killers.

The next day, Natasha experienced “excruciating pain” and returned to Lions Gate Hospital. This time, they doubled her pain medication, according to her mother.

Forry couldn’t accompany her daughter in the hospital because of COVID-19 protocols.

“They ultimately failed Natasha from her only hope of turning this around,” alleged Forry.

On Oct. 11, Natasha was having difficulty breathing and was taken to the hospital via an ambulance.

Forry said doctors initially thought her daughter had COVID, but she had doubts.

“I said to him, ‘Well, could it have anything to do with a cyst that she had on Oct. 2?’ And that was the first that he heard of it, which was really a big concern for us,” she said.

Forry was able to see her daughter through a glass window. It would be one of their last interactions.

“I motioned I love you to her and she was looking at me…They did let me go see her and they put all this protective clothing on me and I honestly didn’t think that was going to be the last time I was going to see her,” she said.

Natasha died shortly after 7 a.m. on Thanksgiving.

According to her autopsy report, which Forry provided to CTV News, Natasha died of an staph infection that had spread to her lungs and other parts of her body.

Forry believes if Natasha had been properly diagnosed and treated, her daughter would still be alive.

“Natasha was so vibrant and so full of life. She had so many dreams and aspirations, and I just feel like it’s such a tragic loss because she was so loved…so many great things happening in her life and in her future, and to have this, just her life shortened so quickly, and so senselessly,” Forry said.

Natasha Forry

Health authority launches review

Vancouver Coastal Health confirmed to CTV News it investigated after Natasha’s death.

Last Thursday, Forry was in a meeting with hospital and health authority officials to learn what changes the health authority was going to implement as a result of the tragic death.

Forry was told these changes would be made at all hospitals in the health authority:

  • When there is an unclear diagnosis and a patient comes back a second time after being discharged, the hospital will do more to find out what is wrong before releasing the patient.
  • The flow of information will be improved when a patient moves from being admitted in the emergency room to triage.
  • Family members will be given updates and information prior to the patient being discharged, whether it is in-person, on the phone or on video chat.
  • The procedures of discharging a patient will be improved. The hospitals will check a person’s vitals prior to release.

Forry said these recommendations are separate from the investigation also underway by the B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons.

In an email statement, Vancouver Coastal Health called the incident “a tragic situation.”

“We share our deepest condolences with the family and loved ones. We know that this is a difficult and stressful situation, however patient privacy and confidentiality prevent us from publicly discussing the details of this case. We conducted a review to examine the circumstances and our processes in the care of this patient, and will use these findings to improve care. We remain committed to working with all families to ensure patients receive the best care possible.”


‘A slap in the face’: Search for justice takes unexpected turn

In Forry’s quest for justice, she learned she cannot file a wrongful death claim because her daughter did not have dependents, which is one of the requirements of the Family Compensation Act.

“It’s just so wrong because every day I wake up with the loss of my daughter. She was my only child,” Forry said. “I don’t get to see her get married. I don’t get to be a grandmother, and I don’t get her to take care of me when I go, but for some reason it doesn’t apply – her future means nothing in B.C. law right now.”

The B.C. Wrongful Death Law Reform Society has been advocating the province to modernize the law for more than two decades.

“It’s based on Lord Campbell’s Act in the U.K. in 1846; only people who meet the discriminatory criteria of having both income and dependants have worth under the law, everyone else has no value legislated under the law, so therefore families aren’t able to hold wrongdoers accountable and right the wrong,” said Michael-James Pennie, president of the society.

He said without legislative protections in place, it leaves every British Columbian vulnerable.

“You’re going to learn when you lose someone to wrongful death that the grieving process is actually inextricably linked to being able to access justice, and when you’re denied that justice, you’re denied your humanity, you’re denied your ability to go through the grieving process,” he said.

Attorney General David Eby agrees the law has allowed for this injustice to go on for far too long, adding it will be addressed in the mandate of the NDP government.

Eby said they took the first step by passing no-fault legislation, which will be implemented in the spring.

He said the largest group of wrongful deaths typically happen in collisions and that is why this is being addressed first.

“Under the new system, families will be receiving significant compensation when they lose a loved one, regardless of the tests under the old law. It will be a significant change for families and I’m glad that we can deliver that but that’s just one cohort, there’s more to do,” Eby told CTV News.

But Pennie argues the change will actually harm victims rather than help them.

“Very sadly, I believe the NDP government is misguided on no fault. No fault is a huge step backwards from the rights of victims of motor vehicle accidents. They’ll now be unable to retain a lawyer on a contingency basis to advocate for their care and recovery. And they’ll be completely subordinate to the bureaucracy over at ICBC,” he said.

He said he was troubled to see that the government did not make changes to cover all wrongful death victims.

“Notionally, it would be easier to do everything at the same time, but the reality is that we have limited resources and government and we can only do so much at the same time,” Eby said.

He did not provide a timeline as to when the changes could be coming.

As for Forry, she described her Natasha as a fighter, and as a result, she will continue to advocate for justice on her behalf.

“That’s the last thing I could do for her, is try to fight for her and create some change,” Forry said.

Ann and Natasha Forry

Ann Forry, right, and her daughter Natasha are seen in an image provided by the family.

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About the BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society

‘In Their Name’ is the campaign of ‘The BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society’ – a BC registered non-profit organization comprised of volunteer families who have lost a loved one to wrongful death in BC and were denied access to justice. In response to the biggest human rights issue facing the province today, our goal is to modernize British Columbia’s antiquated wrongful death legislation, which predates confederation (1846). Under current legislation, the value of a human life is measured only by the deceased’s future lost income, so long as they had dependents.

As a result of the province’s antiquated law, access to justice has been denied to the families of the wrongfully killed who do not meet this discriminatory criteria. This has affected especially vulnerable groups, namely children, seniors, the disabled, and anyone without dependents when they are killed by the negligent or intentional acts of another.

BC is presently the last of all the provinces, yet to have undertaken this critical legislative modernization to allow for dignity, value, and protections for all its citizens under the law.

When it’s ‘free’ to kill in BC, wrongdoers are not held accountable. This lack of general deterrence holds the province back in terms of incentivizing innovation of safety measures and protocols to prevent wrongful deaths in the first place.

Here’s How You Can Get Involved…

The Premier of British Columbia, David Eby, is responsible for the modernization of BC’s wrongful death laws. Our Society provided David Eby with the drafted ‘Wrongful Death Accountability Act’ when he was acting as the Attorney General for British Columbia for 6 years between 2017-2022. The new Attorney General, Niki Sharma, also shares responsibility as she is the Minister responsible for the ‘Family Compensation Act’ – the current guiding piece of legislation that the civil courts must follow in cases of wrongful death. Minister Sharma receives feedback from the regional ‘Members of the Legislative Assembly’ (MLAs) and follows orders from the Premier, David Eby, who is ultimately responsible for modernization.

Reform is presently at a standstill, as the BC NDP government does not presently view access to justice for the surviving family members of the wrongfully killed as a priority in this province. This is despite the fact that the families behind our Society have been fighting for modernization for over two decades. And despite the fact that all other provinces, including the Yukon, have already modernized in most cases long ago.

The only way to move this forward is by creating massive public awareness and outcry for legislative modernization. Only under the scrutiny of the public and the media will our politicians be forced to take this necessary, and long overdue action.

How many more people will need to die from the same preventable wrongful actions before our politicians will do their job?

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