Hospital probes fatal infections

It’s been more than six months since two young women died suddenly, just weeks apart at Hamilton General Hospital. Now the mother of one of the women is speaking out, saying she doesn’t think doctors did enough to save her daughter. The hospital tells CHCH News it has reviewed its processes, and are making changes that will hopefully help future patients.

“I laid in the bed with her and she said to me ‘mum, I’m going to die’, and then I said ‘no you’re not Jenn’. She knew she was going to die, and my first thought was meningitis.”

Shelley Ryan first brought her daughter Jennifer to Hamilton General Hospital on January 10th. The 24-year old had been vomiting for three days, her left arm was stiff, she had a headache and a fever of 106, her back covered in blotches.

“It came back as pneumonia, the doctor said. And I said no. It’s something else.”

Jennifer was sent home. two days later her mother called 911. After spending the night in hospital it appeared things were turning around. She was sitting up in bed and talking.

“I went back in 2 hours and she was brain-dead. Tubes all down her throat.”

Jennifer passed away the next day leaving behind two kids: Nicholas, 4, and Noah who was only 9 months at the time.

“I just don’t understand it. She was a healthy girl. I just don’t get it.”

Hamilton Health Sciences opened an investigation into Jennifer’s death and the death of Ashley Coville, 26, who died under very similar circumstances just weeks earlier. An expert from Toronto General Hospital who was also brought in to review the deaths has now made recommendations mainly focusing on emergency room care.

Dr Richard McLean of HHS: “Putting processes in place to provide care in a very timely manner to those who may have very subtle signs of illness. Shortening the window of time from when a person presents who is sick to when they actually get the definitive therapy.”

Shelley says she believes if doctors admitted Jennifer to hospital that first night, it would have saved her life.

Dr McLean says the next step is to develop an action plan to implement the recommendations. He says reviewing the processes will make a difference for future patients, but he can’t say if it would have made a difference for these two women.


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