Ongoing construction on the new David E. Kampe Tower at Penticton Regional Hospital.Mark Brett/Western News file photo

Lawsuit claims medication mishandling at Penticton’s hospital

The claimant says her doctor ramped up her bipolar medication before cutting her off

  • Jan. 21, 2018 12:00 a.m.

A woman is taking the Interior Health Authority and some doctors and staff at the Penticton Regional Hospital to court over allegations her bipolar medications were suddenly halted, causing her distress.

The woman, whose name is being withheld due to her mental health struggles, filed the lawsuit in Vancouver’s B.C. Supreme Court last Friday. In the lawsuit, she said she had been taking two 0.5 mg tablets of clonazepam since around 2013.

“The plaintiff had also been maintained on lithium and Synthroid in 2015. The plaintiff’s medication usage has been relatively stable from 2014 to 2015 with minor variations,” the lawsuit reads, noting that during that time she was taking the medication under the care of her general practitioner.

But in January 2016, she said she began receiving care from a PRH psychiatrist, who upped her lithium dosage as well as increasing her clonazepam to six milligrams per day, a sharp increase from the previous one milligram per day.

But then in September 2016, the claimant said her psychiatrist “abruptly” discontinued her clonazepam medication, but did not taper her off the drug.

She also claimed other medical staff at the hospital, who took over her care after her psychiatrist’s departure later in September 2016, did not taper her off the medication, nor did her general practitioner.

“He ought to have, but did not advert to the fact that the plaintiff had been tapered off clonazepam abruptly,” the lawsuit said, referring to the family doctor.

The lawsuit is claiming negligence on the part of all of the medical staff involved, as well as the Pharmasave where she filled her prescriptions.

That, she claims, has resulted in a number of adverse medical effects, including conversion disorder, seizures, uncontrollable shaking, pain, fatigue, anxiety, difficulty walking, speech difficulties, numbness in the face, nausea and abdominal pain and sensitivity to light and sound.

“All of which injuries have caused and continue to cause the plaintiff pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, permanent physical disability; loss of earnings, past and prospective; loss of income earning capacity, loss of opportunity to earn income and loss of housekeeping capacity, past and prospective.”

The claimant also took aim at the medical staff’s failure “to institute an appropriate plan for follow-up and review of medications, commonly termed an ‘improper hand-off,’ following the termination of a doctor-patient relationship.”

The lawsuit does not specify an amount sought, but Supreme Court filings are for claims greater than $35,000.

Interior Health has not filed a response, and declined to comment on the issue, as it is still before the courts.

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