Mary Smith can’t shake the image of her father’s blood on her hands as she cradled him on her Aldergrove driveway in early March.
They had just returned from Langley Memorial Hospital, where she had taken her 94-year-old father because of a discoloured area on his leg.
Smith had taken her father, Eduardo Escueta, to a walk-in clinic on March 2 where he was immediately sent for blood tests. Smith obtained the results, through the service My e-health, an online service in B.C. for lab results, and was told to take her father to the emergency room because additional testing would be done quicker there than if booked through a clinic.
“I presented this to the nurses [at the ER],” she said of his test results.
A normal range reading for one of the tests, a d-dimer, would be under 500. Escueta’s result was more than 1,700. D-dimer tests measure a substance that is released when blood clots break up, according to HealthLink BC.
Smith was concerned her dad had a blood clot or deep vein thrombosis, which he had had in 2016. He had also recently been in hospital after a serious cardiac incident.
But on this day, March 3, she could not believe their luck at a near-empty ER.
“My dad was the only patient outside [in the waiting area],” she said.
She chatted with staff about how quiet the ER was. Her father was called into an exam room right away and had some blood work done. The same reading that was 1,700 before was now up to 2,120.
“He said ‘I don’t care about the test’,” Smith said about the doctor in the ER.
She said the doctor told her he was only interested in the results of an ultrasound yet refused to order the procedure during that visit. She asked if her dad could receive an anticoagulant injection.
“He said ’No, we’re not doing anything for him today’,” she said.
They were sent away and told to wait for the call for an ultrasound.
At home, Smith got her father out of the van and put him with his walker.
She turned to close the van doors. He collapsed on the driveway, and as she knelt to help him, she found his blood on her hands. His eyes were fixed and vacant.
“Wake up. Please speak,” she cried.
In her turmoil and with bloodied hands, she was unable to dial her phone.
A woman walking past stopped and called 9-1-1. Two more women stopped to help, one of whom was a nurse.
“These three ladies, they’re my angels,” she said. “I wish I could see them and thank them again.”
Escueta was taken to Langley Memorial but could not speak nor move parts of his body and grimaced as though in great pain. He had been suffering from pain in his side.
Eduardo Escueta, the CPA and father of nine children who brought his big family to Canada in 1994, died the next morning, on March 4.
That morning the ultrasound department called and asked if her dad would be going in for his test.
In the weeks following her father’s March death, the only conclusion Smith could come to is that the care he received must have something to do with his advanced age.
The doctor had seen her father when during a recent three-week stay, and on March 3 Smith overheard the same doctor treating a child in an adjacent exam room in a nice manner.
“I don’t know why he was so rude,” Smith said.
She contacted the Fraser Health Authority, which oversees Langley Memorial and filed a complaint. She was told by a patient quality care staff member that the FHA does not have the authority to discipline doctors.
“They hired this doctor to help patients, and the problem is they’re not going to do anything to discipline this doctor,” she commented.
She wonders why have a patient quality care office if it has no ability to do anything.
“The daughter has reached out to us with some specific questions related to her father’s care. Our patient care quality office is working with her on those concerns,” FH public affairs spokesperson Jacqueline Blackwell told the Langley Advance. “Being mindful of patient confidentiality, what we can tell you is the patient presented to Langley Memorial Hospital, and was seen by a physician. After an initial review of the patient’s file, our understanding is an incident took place outside of the hospital that led to the patient’s passing.
“We are sorry for the family’s loss and we will continue to work with them through our patient care quality office to address their questions.
“The patient care quality office reviews a patient’s care journey and works with members of the organization to address any concerns a patient or their family have about the care they received. ”
Smith has also made a submission to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia.
“Complaints filed with the college are protected under B.C. privacy laws,” the college wrote to the Advance. “If an investigation into a complaint leads to formal discipline, this information is published on the college website.”
Smith said she knows her father was elderly and would die at some point, but said it should not have happened in this way.
“I just wanted him to have a peaceful death,” Smith said.
Smith also spoke to the Langley Advance for several reasons. She feels strongly that the quality of care needed to be better. Smith is concerned that there are many seniors in this community who don’t have the support system her father did and that they might not question the medical system.