MLA calls for review in toddler’s cancer misdiagnoses
Published Tuesday, August 21, 2012 8:17PM PDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 21, 2012 9:16PM PDT
B.C.’s opposition health critic is calling for a review after a Vancouver Island toddler suffering a rare form of cancer was misdiagnosed by multiple doctors.
MLA Mike Farnworth said a full review is necessary to determine why three-year-old Hannah’s illness was diagnosed as everything from constipation and malnutrition to wheat and gluten allergies.
“I think there should be some accountability in the system so they can know what happened, and ideally the system will learn if there were any mistakes made or what could have been done better,” Farnworth said.
The call came one day after Hannah’s parents spoke publicly about their frustrations in visiting more than half a dozen health care providers since June, ranging from a number of walk-in clinics to Victoria General Hospital.
“Her stomach was out probably two feet from her body, she was walking funny, she was having so man symptoms like vomiting,” mother Brooke Ervin said. “She just wasn’t herself any more.”
Eventually, the family says an ultrasound was ordered and doctors discovered a large tumour in Hannah’s stomach.
The Vancouver Island Health Authority said the little girl’s charts indicate that Hannah received appropriate and timely care when she was brought into Victoria General, but will review the case if the family files a former complaint.
“In order for our patient care quality office to initiate any review into the care of this child, we would need to have full consent from the family,” said Laura Nielsen, acting director of quality, research and safety for VIHA.
The family says it will complain, but is currently focused on Hannah’s treatment at BC Children’s Hospital, where she has undergone surgery and is receiving daily chemotherapy.
Doctor’s say the toddler is responding well to the treatment, but that she will likely be in and out of hospital for a full year – which will take a toll on the Victoria family, who have to stay in the Lower Mainland to be by her side.
They also warn that Hannah’s cancer can be difficult to diagnose, given that the symptoms can mirror more minor ailments.
‘Often they do take a bit of time to diagnose but as these tumours get bigger, often that’s when they come to light and come to the attention, because of the fact that they’ve become large,” oncologist Dr. Rod Rassekh said.
The family says they still believe it should have been caught sooner.
“Everyone was telling us there was nothing wrong, there’s nothing wrong and we could tell our daughter was getting worse and worse and worse,” Ervin said.
Friends have set up a webpage called “Angels for Hannah” to help support the family, who have left their jobs and other younger daughter to be with Hannah in Vancouver.
With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Scott Roberts