Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Injuries from hospital fall prompt lawsuit

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A former manager at Investors Group and his wife are suing the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, Health Sciences Centre and several doctors and nurses at the hospital after he was left a quadriplegic two years ago following a bizarre fall from a stairwell ladder before his surgery.

James Brent Jones and Gloria Jones are asking the court to find the health authority and other defendants responsible and award them financial damages for loss of income and the cost of future care.

In addition to being in a quadriplegic state, Brent Jones alleges he has suffered cognitive damage and memory loss, psychological and emotional trauma, and is no longer able to work. Gloria Jones alleges she has suffered depression that has required medical care and treatment since her husband's fall. They say they have "suffered a loss of companionship and quality of life as husband and wife."

The allegations have not been proven in court. Statements of defence have not been filed. No date has been set for trial.

A spokeswoman for the WRHA said it would not offer a comment while the matter is before the courts.

In a statement of claim recently filed at Queen's Bench, the Joneses detailed the alleged incidents that led up to the fall and what has transpired since.

Jones was admitted to HSC emergency March 24, 2011, where he was observed to be pale and weak. He spoke incoherently. He had been suffering from colitis and was admitted later that day for surgery to remove his large intestine.

Jones was given a high-dose steroid for treatment, which he alleges can cause psychotic episodes, and he subsequently developed paranoia.

On March 26, Jones called his wife at their home at 4 a.m., told her he was feeling strange, was concerned about medications he was being given and wanted her to consult a lawyer.

At 8 a.m., a doctor who assessed Jones concluded he wanted someone from the HSC psychiatric department to assess Jones but that never happened.

At 11 a.m., nursing staff saw Jones leaving his room, wandering down the hallway and pulling his IV pole beside him.

Even though the ward and patient lounges were searched, Jones couldn't be found.

A ward nurse found Jones more than an hour later, unconscious, lying in a pool of blood under his head in a stairwell off the ward, at the foot of a metal ladder that leads to the roof and a mechanical room.

Court documents state it's believed that in his confused state, Jones climbed the metal ladder and either jumped or fell.

His injuries included several fractured cervical vertebrae, broken bones in his upper back, a fractured rib, a partial collapse of a lung, a tear in the vertebral artery in the neck that supplies the brain with oxygenated blood and damage to the spinal cord.

Jones remained in hospital in a quadriplegic state until Feb. 7, 2012. Currently, he requires full-time home care.

After the fall, HSC installed a locked door at the bottom of the ladder and developed improved protocols for communication with the psychiatric department, court documents state.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 26, 2013 $sourceSection0

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