Thompson v. Handler, 2023 ONSC 5042

Full Decision

On November 16, 2015, the plaintiff, Ms. Shaw, attended a Brampton emergency room with significant abdominal pain. She had previously undergone a bariatric surgery – an operation associated with increased risks of a bowel hernia. Ms. Shaw remained in the hospital until the following morning, at which time her significant pain persisted.

During her stay, several investigations were ordered by the defendant emergency physician, Dr. Handler, including a CT scan. Following discharge, a radiologist contacted Dr. Handler to inform him that the CT showed a twisting of mesenteric vessels in the abdominal region.

Ms. Shaw returned to the hospital by ambulance the following morning. By then, her small bowel had developed areas of necrosis, which had expanded to other parts of the digestive system. Unfortunately, this led to her death.

The Court found that Dr. Handler fell below the standard of care in failing to 1) contact Ms. Shaw and have her return to the ER, and 2) refer her to an on-call surgeon for immediate consultation on November 16. This standard was influenced by her unresolved 10/10 pain, CT results and her history of bariatric surgery.

Had the standard been met, a laparoscopic investigation the day before her death would have led surgeons to the discovery and repair of hernias before her bowel became necrotic. This repair would have saved her life.

General damages were awarded to the estate of Ms. Shaw.  Her surviving husband and children received awards for their loss of care, guidance and companionship; loss of dependency for household income and housework; and funeral expenses. Pre-judgment interest on non-pecuniary damages was awarded at a rate of 5%.

Written by

Brandyn is an Associate at Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers LLP. HHis practice is focused on medical malpractice litigation, as well as other areas of civil litigation including motor vehicle accidents and product liability. He is known for his excellent analytical skills and client-focused approach to resolving legal disputes.