Anderson v. Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre, 2012 NSSC 360

In this case, the Plaintiff, represented by Wagners, brought a medical malpractice action against medical residents who unsuccessfully attempted to insert a catheter into her internal jugular vein, puncturing her jugular artery.

After a flare-up of a chronic disease, the Plaintiff had been admitted to the QEII Health Sciences Centre and had to be provided with total parenteral nutrition (an intravenous feeding method requiring the use of a central line). The doctors’ first two attempts to insert a central line into the Plaintiff’s subclavian vein were unsuccessful, so a decision was made to insert the line by the internal jugular approach.

The Defendant Physicians were ultimately unsuccessful in inserting the central line, such that they punctured the Plaintiff’s jugular artery and causing her serious, debilitating stroke.

Wagners took the case to trial on behalf of the Plaintiff and the trial judge found that neither doctor had warned the Plaintiff about the risks of inserting a central line into her internal jugular vein and that they therefore had not obtained her informed consent. The Plaintiff also proved, through expert evidence, that her head had been significantly rotated during the insertion, and that one Defendant hit a vertebral artery twice during her attempted insertion. The punctured artery caused the Plaintiff’s stroke.

Importantly, the Plaintiff was able to prove that the head placement used by the Defendants did not meet the standard of care, and that, if they had employed an appropriate head placement during the procedure, the stroke would not have occurred. The Plaintiff was therefore successful in proving her medical malpractice case.

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