Family speaks out about Horizon Health chemotherapy blunder
A grieving family is demanding answers and better treatment after receiving a letter from Horizon Health stating that their loved one may have received less chemotherapy than prescribed.
Earl Mattinson could play just about anything with strings and the Nova Scotia native could sing even better.
So when he started to lose his voice, he went to his doctor.
“After a little while, they did up doing some testing and found out he had a mass on his lung,” said his daughter Amanda Mattinson.
It was a two year battle, but on March 23 of this year, Earl Mattinson passed away.
“Thirty-two years we were together in total, and it just feels like it happened, you know, not that long ago,” said his wife Cheryl Mattinson.
Six months later, during her grandson's birthday party, Cheryl Mattinson got a call.
“They said ‘this is the hospital,’ and they said can we speak to Earl Mattinson? I said ‘no, he passed away in March.’”
The call ended pretty quickly, but that same day, she received a letter addressed to her husband, and written as if he were still alive.
“It took me right back to the day he passed away,” she said.
CTV News reported on these letters last week. They were sent to almost 250 families.
The letter says, in part, their loved one may not have been given a full dose of chemotherapy when treated for cancer. About 10 per cent of the drug was left behind in the IV tubing.
“How? How do you make a mistake this colossal, and have it go unnoticed for so long?” said Amanda Mattinson.
Of those patients, 120 have passed away.
A Horizon Health oncologist assures it would not have made a difference in the end.
But ever since receiving the news, the Mattinsons have been trying to make sense of it, going through a roller coaster of emotions.
“How do you say that? How do you know?” said Amanda Mattinson. “Their definition of 'a difference' is obviously different from ours because, like I said before, I would take one more extra week.”
Cheryl Mattinson wonders what difference that 10 per cent could have made.
“Even if it had made a little difference, you know what I mean?” she said. “Keeping someone you care about with you, even a little longer is really important.”
Amanda reached out to Horizon to stop correspondence from going to her mother and asked that it go to her instead. She says no one has phoned to follow up.
“I don't want a piece of paper to be enough of an excuse,” said Amanda Mattinson. “I don't want a very hollow apology and a poorly worded phone call to be the end of it. I don't think that's how you should deal with grieving families and I think that something needs to be done about that.”
CTV News asked for an interview with someone at Horizon Health two days ago.
We also asked to see the IV tubing, pumps or other changes that have been made.
The network denied that request, stating that all affected patients were contacted by their oncologist to explain the situation.
But two families of deceased patients have told CTV News they haven't received a call.
“I know how much my father meant to me and for him to just be barely a blip on someone else's radar, is frustrating,” Amanda Mattinson said.
“What I would want to see, and my main goal in speaking out about this overall, is because I don't ever want to see another family, another wife, daughter, sister, brother, mother, father, I don't want anyone to ever experience what we've experienced.”
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Laura Brown.