Woman Given Toxic Drug In Error

This story has stirred quite a bit of interest in the last few days.  Musgravetown resident Nancy Mojica-Fisher was given a chemotherapy treatment last Thursday that had been intended for a cancer patient sitting next to her at G.B. Cross Memorial Hospital in Clarenville. Ms. Mojica-Fisher is a United Church minister who had gone to hospital for a treatment of Remicade for her chronic psoriasis.

Ms. Mojica-Fisher was sent by her doctors to the Health Sciences Centre in St. John’s and admitted Monday night, still suffering from the ill effects of the toxic chemo drug.

The incident became publicly known on Monday when Ms. Mojica-Fisher spoke out publicly about the accident and her injury, and Eastern Health stated that it is investigating how such a significant error was made.

I’ve heard Eastern Health officials claim it happened through a system error, but the Health Minister is reported to be blaming it on human error.

Whatever the cause – and it is probably a matter of causes in the plural – this unnerving incident underscores yet again that hospitals are dangerous places. George Tilley, former CEO of Eastern Health, testified at the Cameron Inquiry that it is commonly accepted that 7% of all hospital admissions result in a serious preventable adverse event. This is simply unacceptable and the appalling safety standards in our hospitals simply must be drastically revamped and reformed.

A measure of the public interest in this issue is that when I checked the CBC website, there were 95 story comments posted. One provocative comment was from a nurse who worked as an R.N. in the G.B. Cross hospital in Clarenville. She stated:

It was the worst run hospital I have ever set foot in. The nurses have no support from management. Workload numbers have been critically high for years. I am not surprised something like this happened in G.B. My last shift there I did not feel safe working there so I decided it was my last shift and never went back.

Another theme in the comments is that the individuals involved as well as the institution should be held accountable. Unfortunately, the only means personally at the disposal of Nancy Mojica-Fisher to ensure this happens is to hire a lawyer and take legal steps. With an error this blatant and this much public attention, it is a claim the hospital will have to pay.