Halifax woman alleges medical malpractice after failed kidney transplant
Published Tuesday, October 25, 2016 1:59PM ADT
A Halifax woman alleging medical malpractice after a failed kidney transplant is suing, saying it’s the only way she can get answers.
Tracy Murphy has had kidney issues for the better part of 16 years and she experienced kidney failure in 2010.
“I caught some kind of H1N1 virus and it completely kicked my butt,” says Murphy. “I ended up on emergency dialysis.”
Her stepmother was a match and Murphy received a transplant in May 2011. She says everything went well, in the beginning.
“The day that I got the transplant was amazing. The surgeon came in to see me,” she recalls. “It was his day off and he wanted to just tell me, like, congratulations. It was a beautiful kidney, everything went great.”
She says there were some minor complications, but doctors at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre were optimistic. But everything changed seven days later, while Murphy was still in hospital.
Medical records show a nurse on contract from an outside agency administered Tylenol intravenously. Murphy says she received another medication, Maalox, the same way.
“It’s oral medication in your bloodstream,” she explains.
Several hours later, records show the same nurse tried to give her more medication intravenously.
“But the charge nurse whispered, ‘What are you doing? We don’t do that.’ And the nurse went, ‘Oh, OK.’ And she disconnected the syringe and she left the room,” says Murphy.
“It took me a second because I was still crying in pain and I said, ‘Wait a minute, what do you mean, don’t do that?’ I said, ‘Wait a minute, she already did.’”
Two days later, Murphy was rushed back into the operating room.
“The surgeon came out and said, ‘I don’t think she’s going to make it. You should call your family to come in.’”
Murphy survived the ordeal, but her new kidney had to be removed about two months later, and no one has been able to determine why the transplant failed.
Now, Murphy is suing the nurses, Bayshore Healthcare Ltd. and the former Capital District Health Authority as she searches for answers. Her lawyer, Ray Wagner, is seeking expert opinions.
“You cannot win a medical malpractice case unless you have expert opinion critical of the care, and also establishing that it caused the damage,” explains Wagner.
The legal work has led to allegations of other medical mistakes in Murphy’s care.
“There is a massive lack of communication in the hospital and that’s why, I think, where these errors stem from,” says Murphy.
In their statement of defence, the Health Authority admits an agency nurse entered Murphy’s room with a syringe containing a cloudy liquid and that the charge nurse inquired about what it contained. They state the charge nurse was told Tylenol and she then advised the agency nurse that she could not administer Tylenol that way.
The Health Authority doesn’t admit to any other allegation.
Bayshore Healthcare – the agency that supplied the nurse – denies all allegations and alleges the Health Authority didn’t have enough staff available and didn’t provide proper training.
The two organizations are now also suing each other over this case.
As for Murphy, she says she’s frustrated medical staff will no longer discuss her care, and says no one will tell her whether another transplant is a possibility.
“When you name them in a piece of litigation, then everybody has a tendency to retreat, and nobody wants to get involved in the care when somebody is involved in a litigation,” explains her lawyer.
At the age of 37, Murphy can no longer work and is back on dialysis five to six days a week. She says it’s the only way she can live.
“I basically feel like the life is being sucked out of me at some point during every treatment,” she says.
“I need them to be held accountable and to know that my life matters to me.”
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Kayla Hounsell