Lawsuit alleges surgery delay at Winnipeg hospital caused permanent damage

A Manitoba man is suing the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and seven doctors after he suffered a series of medical problems in 2020, leading to his permanent disability.

Timothy Elke’s bowel was perforated during surgery to remove a blockage from his bile duct, and the doctors who treated him were negligent in his followup care, he alleges in a statement of claim filed with the Manitoba Court of King’s Bench on Nov. 8.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and the Health Sciences Centre physicians involved failed “to appreciate that Timothy required immediate surgery to avoid the prolonged and permanent damages that he ultimately suffered,” the lawsuit says.

None of the allegations have been proven in court, and a statement of defence hasn’t been filed.

CBC News has requested comment from the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority but didn’t immediately receive a response.

Elke, who is from Amaranth, Man., had his initial surgery to remove the blockage at Health Sciences Centre on Nov. 10, 2020, the first fall of the COVID-19 pandemic. The day of his surgery, he was discharged with directions to return if he noticed pain or jaundice.

Shortly after, he went to the emergency room in Portage la Prairie because of extreme abdominal pain, and a CT scan revealed he had a possible hole in his small intestine or bowel, the court documents say.

The court documents allege the doctor who performed Elke’s initial surgery didn’t recognize that he had punctured a hole in Elke’s small intestine, and should have noticed that he had during the surgery.

Elke was rushed to Health Sciences Centre, where he was diagnosed with sepsis and pancreatitis, as well as a possible secondary infection in the area behind the tissue that lines the abdominal wall and covers most of the organs.

He was admitted to the surgical intensive care unit at HSC, given antibiotics and monitored, but over the next few days, his condition deteriorated.

Elke’s heart stopped for 10 minutes, the hole in his bowel grew and his lung partially collapsed, court documents say. He was also intubated because he couldn’t breathe on his own.

The doctors who treated Elke at HSC failed “to recognize the severity of the … infection and treat it appropriately,” the court documents say.

2nd surgery too late: lawsuit

Three weeks after the initial surgery to remove the blockage in his bile duct, Elke had another major surgery to connect his stomach to the middle part of his small intestine and a tube was placed in another part of his small intestine, where there were serious perforations, the lawsuit says.

Elke claims the bowel perforation and the delay in proper treatment for that hole were caused or contributed to by the negligence of the doctors at HSC.

Elke has continued to suffer since his surgeries two years ago.

He’s suffered kidney failure, a pulmonary embolism, mobility issues and psychological and emotional trauma over the last two years, the lawsuit says.

Elke has been hospitalized since November 2020 and will need dialysis and full-time care for the rest of his life.

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