April 15, 2024

La Ronge Northerner

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An anesthesiologist suspected of euthanizing an adult

Two years after the tumultuous police investigation into a patient’s euthanasia, the suspected anesthesiologist has never been investigated and has not yet faced any charges.

“It’s a very long time,” replied René Verret, a criminal lawyer and former spokesman for the Director of Criminal and Penal Cases (DPCP).

On November 1, 2019, an identified 84-year-old patient died at Cité-de-la-Santé Hospital in Laval.

Legal documents obtained show that the two nurses were “shocked” and “dissatisfied” with the anesthesiologist’s action. Newspaper.

After reading an employee report, the Director of Professional Services, Dr. Alain Durkot, decided it was euthanasia.

A week later, the Service de Police de Laval (SPL) began an investigation into the murder and criminal negligence that led to the death.

The patient underwent surgery due to abdominal pain. Finally, prophylactic treatment was chosen. However, the anesthesiologist reportedly gave him strong medication and he died.

Regarding the 20-minute delay in the person’s death, he said, “He has a strong heart.”

Two years later, police met with several staff members who did not call an anesthesiologist.

“Obviously, the latter [l’anesthésiste] May have exercised his right to remain silent. But by avoiding calling her [la police] Lost the opportunity to get a copy of it ”, we read in the judgment of the Supreme Court issued on November 25.

Also, the anesthesiologist claims – up to the Supreme Court – that his identity has not been released. She says this could be detrimental to her in a possible investigation.

To this day, his identity is still preserved.

The other two doctors involved that night decided not to meet with the police because they were bound by “professional secrecy”. However, the police wanted to see the investigation file of the Medical College of Quebec (CMQ) in Quebec. The court recently denied this access and ordered the SPL to return the sealed package to the college.

According to Judge Helen de Salvo, the police could have “done more” during the investigation, including recalling two witness doctors and obtaining the opinion of an expert. In addition, the judge writes that the criminal liability of the three physicians was not “excluded” by the SPL.

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By email, SPL responded that “the investigation is over.” In February 2020, it was almost two years since I received the DPCP file. After that, nothing was announced and the answer was “no public information” in this file.

According to the College of Physicians, it is written that “trials are pending in other courts.”

Since December 2019, the doctor has stopped practicing.

The autopsy report is not yet public. According to prosecutors, the case is dragging on.

“It’s too late. […] It is true that the wheels of justice spin very slowly, replied Patrick Martin-Maynard, a lawyer who specializes in health. But it is not uncommon for us to see lengthy investigations. ”

However, Me Verret insists that the DPCP keep all information in one file before making a decision.

“This is definitely a very complicated case, there are important issues and controversies, so a long delay can be explained. But that does not mean there will be no indictment,” he said.

Here is a summary of significant events surrounding the patient’s death in Cité-de-la-Santé, Laval. The reported facts are taken from legal documents filed in court.

“By the grace of God”

On October 31, 2019, an 84-year-old patient arrived at the hospital with abdominal pain. She was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction and required surgery.

Man, aware of the dangers associated with it, did not want “any treatment to be relentless and to leave everything to the grace of God.” He does not want to get cardiopulmonary resuscitation or
Emergency infiltration, we study.

Towards sweet death

At 2 a.m., the patient was taken to the operating room. Two hours later, the surgeon discovered “necrosis of large areas of the small intestine.” The doctor left the room and called the daughter-in-law of the person contacting for medical results. In view of the severe potential side effects, prophylactic treatment was selected.

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The surgeon then explained to the daughter-in-law within a few hours and two days that her uncle would be transferred to intensive care and that he would die “quietly.”

Back in the operating room, the surgeon closed the abdominal wall and explained to the anesthesiologist that “there is no expected survival of the patient if his digestive system is damaged”.

He has “no family”

The anesthesiologist then called a doctor in the intensive care unit and told the patient “there is no family to go with him on this procedure”. A nurse interrupts and mentions a document stating that he “has a daughter” and that “it is wrong to say he has no family”.

In response, the doctor “questioned the usefulness of finding a room for the patient when he was being taken directly to the morgue”.

“Not a process”

At 4:45 a.m., the doctor administered three drugs to the octogenarian and disconnected him from the ventilator.

“It shouldn’t be long, just a few minutes,” he is said to have commented.

There were two nurses, an assistant and a respiratory therapist. The two shocked nurses expressed their disagreement and said “tell him this is not the way”.

However, the doctor will not take this into account, we read.

After waiting 10 to 15 minutes, the patient was still not dead. Then we read that the doctor said that the person “has a strong heart”. While waiting for death, an employee took action to find a bed for an adult.

Later, in a meeting with the Director of Professional Services (DSP), the doctor admitted that he was not very experienced in the administration of prophylactic treatment and that the doses were “higher than desired”, which is a document.

“It’s your decision”

The doctor called a colleague on the intercom and asked him to come and fill out the death certificate. To which he refuses: “I will not sign it, it is your decision” reads one.

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He will eventually sign.

At 5.44am, the person died 15 to 20 minutes after the injection.

At 7:00 a.m., a family member was rushed to the hospital.

It sounds like “euthanasia”

The Medical College was contacted by the DSP and the Chair of Physicians, Dentists and Pharmacists (CMDP) regarding the circumstances under which the nurses died. Notice came to them that “it looks like euthanasia.”

“Collective decision”

On November 8, 2019, the anesthesiologist gave a different version from the DSP’s nurses, Dr. Alain Durkot, we read. “For his part, it’s about immunotherapy and trying to free the patient,” he said.

The doctor wrote in his medical report that the “joint decision of the three of us” (the doctors on duty that night) was to “give palliative anesthesia.” A doctor refused to discuss the drug.

November 11, 2019

The anesthesiologist may have offered to resign under certain conditions, including deleting all traces of the event from the professional file. He resigned unconditionally because Dr. Durkot refused.

December 2019

Following disciplinary action prior to the Collège des médecins du Québec, the doctor resigned and could no longer practice.

February 2020

After the police investigation, the file was transferred to the Director of Criminal and Criminal Cases. No results have been announced.

  • ⁇ [La police] Except for three doctors, they met with everyone involved in the victim’s surgery, closely or remotely, and obtained a lot of information from various sources. ”
  • “The DPCP alleges that there were” gray areas “in the investigation because they did not meet with the three doctors. Perhaps, however, this is true of many criminal investigations when the accused gets the right to remain silent. This file is no exception to the rule.”

Source: Supreme Court Judgment (Judge Helen de Salvo), November 25, 2021