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Seniors at Risk is a resource for seniors and their loved ones dealing with over-medication of seniors, elder abuse in institutions, denial of legal rights to seniors and other challenging aspects of aging that seniors are facing in today's society.

The Seniors at Risk website is a gathering place for those who are fighting lonely battles for respect, justice and goodwill, often against bureaucracies or other powerful societal organizations and groups.

You are welcome here. We will listen, we will understand, and we will help.

More stories emerge – doctors and hospitals refuse to treat or release patients

 

Today, we bring you a report from a Registered Nurse who works in Intensive Care. She and her mother had a very similar experience to that which we reported on October 3, 2013 Doctors accused of battery refuse to release hospital patient. Here’s what caught our eye in this nurse’s story:

As an ICU RN I knew the mistakes they were making.  I begged for the correct treatment, and when the physicians refused,  I tried to transfer my mother out of there.  My mother’s regular physicians did not practice at this Loma Linda hospital, and they wanted her transferred to a hospital they practiced at. The physicians at the  Loma Linda hospital would not cooperate, they would not speak to my mother’s own physicians, or give them her medical chart, which is necessary before transferring. 

Increasingly, not only are some doctors and hospitals refusing to respect the legal rights of patients and their substitute decision makers, it appears they are also interfering with other doctors and health care facilities who are trying to provide good medical care.

Authorities appear to turn a blind eye, allowing and even permitting these abuses to occur. Seniors at Risk has worked on many such cases in both Canada and the United States. Read An RN’s Real Education below.

 

An RN’s Real Education

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This post is dedicated to my mother, Shirley June Holderness.  I watched her die from medical errors in the southern California town of Loma Linda.  She fought valiantly for seven weeks to live, before succumbing to septic shock from the hospital acquired infections that the physicians refused to treat. She had just had her 66th birthday.

My mother was admitted to the hospital due to a heart attack. She had a stent placed and her heart function returned to completely normal functions.  It was the infections she caught in this hospital, and the refusal to treat the infections that killed her. On admission to the hospital, my mother was tested for infection in her blood, urine and sputum; these test reveled that she did not have any infection. The three infections she caught in the hospital were MRSAAcinetobacter baumannii  and yeast. Laterher records revealed the physician ignored the lab results and refused to treat these infections for days before she went into septic shock and was put on life support, and even then the physician refused to give her the correct antibiotics for 12 more hours.

As an ICU RN I knew the mistakes they were making.  I begged for the correct treatment, and when the physicians refused,  I tried to transfer my mother out of there.  My mother’s regular physicians did not practice at this Loma Linda hospital, and they wanted her transferred to a hospital they practiced at. The physicians at the  Loma Linda hospital would not cooperate, they would not speak to my mother’s own physicians, or give them her medical chart, which is necessary before transferring. 

As if that wasn’t enough, when my mother died from this Loma Linda’s hospitals errors, I had to get (more…)

Doctors accused of battery refuse to release hospital patient

– hospital lawyers ask to have court file sealed

 

October 17, 2013 Update

CHEX-TV removes Time to Die from their website

CHEX-TV’s investigative series Time to Die chronicles the story of Arthur Hippe, a 69-year-old stroke patient, and his wife Marilyn Nelson’s efforts to have him released from Ajax Pickering Hospital. Seniors at Risk reported that CHEX-TV aired Part 1 of the investigative series Time to Die on October 3, 2013. CHEX-TV posted Part 1 to the TV station’s website archives. We have since discovered that CHEX-TV removed Part 1 after being threatened by lawyers for the Rouge Valley Health System, the organization that operates the hospital.

BUT you can still view Part 1 of Time to Die by clicking on the video that Seniors at Risk has posted below.

Lawyers threaten CHEX-TV

Lawyers for Ajax Pickering Hospital are threatening action against CHEX-TV. This appears to be the reason CHEX-TV chose not to run Part 2 of their investigative report. CHEX-TV had planned to air Part 2 the day after Part 1 aired. Scroll further down to read about the hospital’s latest effort to keep information from the public.

It’s a desperate plea from an Ajax woman. She says her husband is being held hostage by a hospital there and given anti-psychotic drugs against her wishes. Pamela Vanmeer has been investigating this case for months and tonight brings us part one of her special series Time to Die.

 

READER COMMENT:

Del asks:  “Can you give us the link to Part 2 Time to Die [CHEX-TV investigative report]? I am unable to find it. I would like to know what the “specific provisions” are that are going to be given in Part 2.”

RESPONSE:

Part 2 of Time to Die has not yet been aired by CHEX-TV.

The morning after Part 1 was aired, lawyers for Ajax Pickering Hospital (Rouge Valley Health Systems) complained to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council in an apparent effort to have the TV station’s license removed. They alleged that CHEX-TV’s investigative reporter, Pamela Vanmeer, lied to the hospital about whether she had recording equipment with her while visiting Arthur Hippe in hospital.

It is noteworthy that the hospital and their lawyers did not deny any of the facts reported in the CHEX-TV investigative report.

The reporter had permission to take photos of Arthur from Arthur Hippe’s wife, who is his Power of Attorney for Personal Care.  As the hospital requested, the reporter did not take or broadcast pictures of staff, other patients or visitors on hospital property. It is not against the law (more…)

Pharmaceutical lobbyist backed former NDP health critic… What??

UPDATE Sep 19, 2013:  A reader sent us a story about the pharmaceutical industry’s influence on the media, helping to hide the fact that prescription drugs often cause violent outbursts, such as the recent Navy Yard shooting. We’ve added the story to the end of this article because it illustrates why we should be very concerned about how far and thoroughly the tentacles of the pharmaceutical industry have spread, and about their influence on our politicians and the hazardous effects on our society and our lives.
How much of the resident-on-resident violence we are hearing about lately in nursing homes might also be caused by the drugs being given to the residents?
Scroll down to read “Media Buries Psychiatric Drug Connections to Navy Shooter” after reading our feature story below.

Pharmaceutical lobbyist backed former NDP health critic… What??

 

We are truly surprised (and disappointed) to learn that one of the stars of the B.C. NDP had a pharmaceutical industry lobbyist working as a key organizer of his 2011 party leadership campaign.

Several years ago, many of us advocating against elder abuse woke up to the unpleasant reality that the NDP, both provincially and federally, were unwilling to do little more than utter platitudes in the media and publish glossy reports about elder abuse – largely ignoring elder abuse committed by health care providers and public agencies.

The Sep 13, 2013 issue of the weekly Vancouver paper, Georgia Strait reports that lobbyist Marcella Munro was working for Mike Farnworth, the former B.C. NDP Health critic, a close runner-up to opposition leader Adrian Dix in the 2011 NDP leadership race. Mr. Farnworth is now NDP Finance critic and a top contender to replace Mr. Dix as part of the fall-out from the NDP defeat in the May 2013 provincial election in B.C.

Marcella Munro is with the Earnscliffe Strategy Group, and is a registered lobbyist for Rx&D, formally known as “Canada’s Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies”, as well as a lobbyist for major players in the fish farming, pesticide and natural gas industries. She also lobbies directly for GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc., and Eli Lilly.

Rx&D is (more…)

Appeal Court says St. Michael’s Hospital wrong to administer antipsychotic drugs without consent

A glimmer of hope appeared last week in the battle to restore the fundamental right of Canadian citizens to choose to give or withhold consent to medication.

A panel of judges in Ontario’s highest court has just overturned previous rulings that permitted a doctor to administer antipsychotic drugs to a patient without her knowledge and against her will.

According to an article in the National Post, this ruling “reinforces a patient’s right to refuse medication,” which the Supreme Court of Canada upheld in 2003. Given the flood of similar cases received by Seniors at Risk, this right to withhold consent has been routinely trampled by our publicly funded doctors, hospitals and nursing homes, often with the aggressive support of lawyers and judges, which this case chillingly demonstrates.

When Amy Anten was hospitalized in November 2009 for treatment of lupus, staff at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto began secretly “slipping an antipsychotic drug (risperidone) into her orange juice” without her knowledge. Later, after she was injected with (more…)

Fatality inquiry judge dismisses request for warnings about antipsychotic drugs

In another example of how citizens are routinely put at risk by the health care system, an Alberta judge has ruled that patients and their substitute decision makers do not need to be informed about the risks of proposed drugs or medical procedures.

 

In her report on the fatality inquiry into the Zyprexa-caused death of 61-year-old Carol Pifko in an Edmonton AB nursing home, Provincial Court judge Elizabeth Johnson ignored all recommendations put to her, including that long-term care staff inform patients and their families of the risks associated with Zyprexa (olanzapine). Judge Johnson wrote:

“It would seem to fetter a physician in how he or she deals with a patient or exercises his or her professional judgment.”

The judge’s statement does not square with the law. Every citizen in Canada has the right to refuse consent to medical treatment (including medication), and to be given information by the doctor about what treatments are proposed. That is the law. Canadian laws protect us from being subjected against our will to medical treatment or care that we do not consent to (with one exception, if a person is deemed to be a danger to others or themselves). Our laws were designed to prevent the atrocities committed by doctors in dictatorships such as Nazi Germany.

Informed consent is essential

It is recognized that information about proposed treatments, including medication, is essential to making health care consent decisions. “For consent to treatment to be considered valid, it must be an “informed” consent. The patient must have been given an adequate explanation about the nature of the proposed investigation or treatment and its anticipated outcome as well as the significant risks involved and alternatives available.” Consent – A guide for Canadian physicians, Kenneth G. Evans, General Counsel, Canadian Medical Protective Society, Fourth Edition.

If the person/patient is incapable, then their appointed substitute decision maker (SDM) has these rights. SDMs are also referred to as personal/health care representatives or proxies. If the patient has not appointed an SDM, (more…)

Myth – Police are diligent in investigating elder abuse

To hear criminology professor Robert Gordon tell a nation-wide CBC Radio audience a few weeks ago, you’d think that action is readily, even automatically, taken to investigate suspected elder abuse when it is reported. You’d be mistaken to draw that conclusion.

The Current, CBC Radio’s flagship investigative program, profiled the tragic death of Betty Anne Gagnon, an Alberta woman living with her sister and brother-in-law, both of whom pleaded guilty to negligence in Ms. Gagnon’s death and are awaiting sentencing. The segment “What happened to Betty Anne Gagnon?” aired on June 18, 2013.

On air, Professor Gordon, Director of the School of Criminology at British Columbia’s Simon Fraser University, said, “The Public Guardians and Trustees in Canada have a responsibility to ensure that individuals (who are abused or neglected or those who neglect themselves)… are protected.”

Prof. Gordon said that legislation governing the Public Guardian and Trustee offices in each province ensures that the Public Guardian and Trustee (PGT), along with the health authorities and the police, “would be duty bound to actually investigate” complaints of elder abuse.

But how well does the Public Guardian and Trustee staff carry out those responsibilities and duties? And, how well are the criminal laws that supposedly protect citizens from elder abuse crimes being enforced? Let’s examine the evidence.

Reality: Media attention or exposing hidden video images can prompt action

Judging by the growing volume of disturbing cases brought to Seniors at Risk’s attention, reports of suspected elder abuse, and especially abuse by health care facility staff, are being routinely ignored by authorities, including and especially the police. Indeed CBC host Anna Maria Tremonti points out to Prof. Gordon that “family members tried to get help for Betty Anne (Gagnon) by calling the RCMP and various social agencies, but they say no one did anything.”  You can (more…)

ALERT: BC Premier says she doesn’t know about Public Guardian misconduct

 

Yesterday BC Premier Christy Clark responded to a caller’s question about the Public Guardian & Trustee on CBC Radio’s province-wide BC Almanac show:

 

CALLER JOANNE from Cowichan asked, “When is the government going to conduct a forensic, financial and policy review of the Public Guardian and Trustee?”

 

PREMIER CLARK responded:  “Hmmm. That’s not a question I’ve given a lot of thought to in the past… I haven’t been in receipt of a lot of complaints about the way the Public Trustee has worked.”

[to listen to the complete call-in show podcast, see link below]

Premier Clark’s response is misleading in the extreme.

She and the government have received scores of complaints from the public about blatant misconduct by the Office of the Public Guardian & Trustee.

Even the B.C. Ombudsperson, in a recent report to the entire legislature, rebuked the Public Guardian, saying that the Office of the Ombudsperson “began to investigate (the PGT) after complaints about how the province’s Public Guardian and Trustee had taken over the legal and financial affairs of thousands of people,” resulting in a report, “No Longer Your Decision,” provided to the Premier’s office in February 2013.

Seniors at Risk routinely receives complaints from people across British Columbia about the PGT. The documents provided to us reveal systemic wrong-doing, and shockingly abusive and negligent treatment of BC citizens by the Public Guardian & Trustee. These abuses of legal and human rights have been happening for years, and the B.C. government has been made aware of them, but apparently not Premier Christy Clark. Perhaps it is time the Premier was briefed.

Premier Clark concluded her response to the caller by saying:

“If you have some real concerns about that, can I ask you to send it to me so I can have a look at it and I’ll get back to you directly about it.”

Accept Premier Clark’s invitation!

Give the Premier an opportunity to learn more about the misconduct of the Public Guardian and Trustee. Let her know if you have had, or are having, a bad experience with the PGT, or if you know of others who have. Everyone should be concerned. These are our taxpayer dollars being spent, not to help, but to intimidate and harm B.C. citizens.

 

SEND A LETTER TO:

Premier Christy Clark
PO Box 9041 STN PROV GOVT,
Victoria, BC 
V8W 9E1
 

Or EMAIL your concerns to the manager of the Correspondence Branch of the Premier’s office at: Antoinette.DeWit@gov.bc.ca

And please SEND A COPY of your letter or email to Seniors at Risk:  contact@seniorsatrisk.org

Seniors at Risk will help ensure that the government doesn’t ignore your complaint – or the magnitude of the systemic abuse of citizens’ rights, freedoms and assets by the Public Guardian and Trustee.

 

2013-05-02 CBC call-in show Christy Clark-PGT podcast clip

Listen to the entire call-in show podcast here: http://www.cbc.ca/bcalmanac/#igImgId_42986

Scroll down the page on the right hand side to find the link to the show’s podcasts.

Then, scroll down the Featured Audio list to find Christy Clark takes questions on BC Almanac.

Caller Joanne’s question is near the end of the show, at about the 17:20 mark.

 

 

 
 
Here are just a few of stories that support the radio show caller’s plea to Premier Clark for (more…)

Public Guardian’s bait ‘n switch routine

Another in our series of letters from Stella about her experiences with public bureaucrats and health care providers as she seeks to protect her father Charlie who “lives” in the seniors care wing of a British Columbia hospital.
 

Stella Writes…

When we were first contacted by the Public Guardian and Trustee of BC, they let us know that it was just an informal hearing, that we didn’t need a lawyer.  Don’t believe it.  This is the first step to Adult Guardianship, a filthy legal contrivance it seems one never escapes from.

They said we had a choice, we could use and pay for PGT services, or we could look after our father’s money ourselves.

I had been Dad’s POA (power of attorney) for several years by then and found the job exhausting because he is financially illiterate (he had never managed money himself) but he liked to have his finances explained to him. As a result of having been prescribed benzodiazepines for 5 years, Dad no longer had the ability to form new memories, making my job very difficult.

I paid bills, prepared financial summaries and reviewed his bank statement with him every quarter, explaining each item line by line.  If the conversation drifted off for a while he would completely forget what we had just done and ask – “what’s going on with my bank statement?” – and I would start all over again, line by line.

I am a professional accountant with over 60 clients and Dad was by far my most difficult account.  The PGT’s offer to take this job on was very appealing even though the cost was high.  I was told to review the PGT’s website and phone the office if I had any questions, which I did.

First the Bait

I dialed the 1-800 number listed on the website and spoke to a woman called Maya.  My concern was that Dad’s money would be put at risk in the stock market if the PGT handled his affairs.  Maya assured me that if the family wanted, his money could be left in his Credit Union earning reliable but unspectacular interest, insured against loss – but only the PGT would have access to the account.  I was told we would receive quarterly statements from the PGT, that we would have some say over how his money was handled although they would pay the bills.

I presented this information to my dad along with the costs of PGT management.  We decided we would hire
them for a couple of years to give me a break just until the house was sold and emptied. I calculated it would cost about (more…)

BC’s Ombudsperson – the pot calling the kettle black?

Ombudsperson takes 4 years to respond to complaint, says ‘no investigation’

BC’s Ombudsperson Kim Carter and her entourage were out in the Lower Mainland communities of Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Richmond and Surrey last week, urging people to tell her and her “team” all about their complaints and concerns.

Kim Carter calls these sojourns into the British Columbia hinterland,“mobile intakes”.

At the end of the week, Ms. Carter took time to do a few media interviews. During these interviews, Kim Carter revealed that the most common complaints her Office receives about government agencies and other organizations her Office oversees are:

  • “Unreasonable delay” by public agencies and organizations in responding to complaints, and
  • “No good, clear explanation” for the concerns brought forth in complaints.

CBC-BC Radio morning show hosts in Vancouver and Victoria, Rick Cluff and Gregor Craigie, both asked Kim Carter about the recent appointment of a Seniors’ Advocate for British Columbia. The BC government decided to make the Seniors’ Advocate office part of the Ministry of Health, and stipulated that the Seniors’ Advocate would not investigate individual cases.

Kim Carter commented that since the new Seniors’ Advocate would not be permitted to investigate individual cases, “…there will still be a very active role for our Office (to take seniors’ care complaints) and we’ll be very much involved with seniors issues because we do have that power.” [interview starts at the 8:30 mark of the podcast]. In other words, her Office is the only place complaints about seniors’ health care in BC can be brought for investigation, once the complainant has exhausted the avenues available within the organization or agency alleged of wrong doing.

But “active” role is not what comes to many complainants’ minds when they think of BC’s Ombudsperson Office.

In fact, Seniors at Risk has learned that the BC’s Ombudsperson Office has a reputation far worse than many of the agencies it oversees, and particularly when it comes to:

  • unreasonable delays
  • no good, clear explanation
  • failure to investigate cases

Here’s one of several examples of Ombudsperson Office neglect that has been brought to Seniors of Risk’s attention recently.

Unreasonable Delays 

In August 2008, Rita McDonnell of Surrey, BC submitted a complaint to the Ombudsperson regarding the care received by her 68-year-old father, Gary Davis while in hospital.

She received a response from the Ombudsperson Office on December 21, 2012. Yes – more than four years later.

In the meantime, Gary Davis had died in a publicly funded long-term-care facility in July 2009 after developing severe bedsores and hospital-acquired infections from inadequate care that necessitated amputation of his legs, and enduring rough treatment by nursing staff.

Failure to Investigate

The letter from the Ombudsperson’s Manager of System Review, Carly Hyman, said,  (more…)

Nurses “inundated with work”, and overflowing toilets

We continue with our posts from Stella as she struggles to protect her father Charlie who “lives”, as so many elderly people now do, in an “extended care wing” of a British Columbia hospital.
 

Stella Writes…

My father remains on the senior’s ward of a hospital here in BC, despite my efforts to get him out.  Yesterday I found him still without his bottom teeth.  Two weeks ago staff told me they were taken away because he has a canker sore in his mouth.  I couldn’t see the sore then and I couldn’t see any sore yesterday.  Apparently they are rinsing his mouth with salt water twice a day or at least that’s what I am told.

I went to look for a nurse to see if Dad could have his teeth back.

I waited 20 minutes for the new Nurse Leader to finish training someone on the computer, but apparently my timing wasn’t good.  She told me she was “inundated with work” and couldn’t help me.  I counted 12 health care workers standing around the front desk, most of them more than 60 feet from any actual patients.

His former Nurse Leader (more…)

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