‘No evidence’ in lawsuit against Yellowknife doctors, judge says

Stanton Territorial Hospital
Stanton Territorial Hospital. (2015)
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An Edmonton woman’s lawsuit against three Yellowknife doctors she claims left a metal clip inside her for eight years has been dismissed in NWT Supreme Court.

Darlene Larabie underwent gallbladder surgery at Stanton hospital in 1993. Court documents state she claimed she began experiencing bilateral and lower back pain three years later.

In 2011, Larabie underwent an ultrasound that she says revealed a metal clip had migrated into her spine.

In her statement of claim, Larabie insisted that the clip was at the root of her ongoing chronic pain, and that her suffering was a direct result of negligence by her doctors.

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However, court documents state that Larabie, who was represented by her partner rather than a lawyer, provided no expert evidence to back up her claims.

Clips used ‘routinely’

In a statement of defence, one of the doctors maintained that the clip left inside Larabie is used routinely in surgeries, and that it is intended to remain in the body.

“The risk of migration is one of the risks associated with surgery and cannot be foreseen by medical personnel at the time of the surgery,” read the statement of defense.

It continued by arguing: “If the migration of the clip is in fact the cause of Ms. Larabie’s ongoing pain, it was in any event not the result of negligence.”

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No sufficient evidence for trial

In his decision, Judge Andrew Mahar stated that without evidence, he could not determine whether there was an actual case for trial.

“There may well be cases or claims in medical malpractice where the facts are so clear that evidence would not be required,” he wrote. “This is obviously not one of those cases.”

He further wrote that he would not only require expert evidence to prove the clip was in fact the cause of Larabie’s suffering, but also that the migration was a result of negligence.

In his decision, Mahar said: “The court … has no way of determining whether or not there is an actual issue for trial without evidence. I have no evidence before me.”

 

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