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Anesthetic dose higher than usual: testimony

A Red Deer anesthesiologist testified on Wednesday that she gave a teen with cerebral palsy a higher than usual dose of an anesthetic drug before his dental surgery.

Under questioning during a civil trial in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench, Dr. Alayne Farries said she usually gives patients with cerebral palsy a smaller amount of a neuromuscular blocker than someone without the condition. Less is given to those with cerebral palsy because they can be harder to wake up after surgery.

Farries told Calgary lawyer Brian Devlin she normally would have given a dose of around 0.3 to 0.4 milligrams per kilogram of body weight for a case like Shawn Gallant’s. Instead, he got the standard dose of 0.6 milligrams per kilogram.

The drug is given to surgery patients after they are asleep so a tube can be run into the trachea to provide oxygen.

Devlin is representing the parents of Shawn Gallant in a lawsuit that alleges Farries was negligent by administering “inappropriate anaesthetic medications” considering the surgery involved and Gallant’s pre-existing conditions.

The suit also alleges Farries failed to properly monitor his condition or take appropriate steps after complications arose after the surgery, which took place in Red Deer when he was 18 years old.

As a result the family alleges, Gallant’s condition later deteriorated significantly and he is no longer capable of communicating, watching TV or other normal pursuits and will require 24-hour care for the rest of his life.

The family is seeking care costs and medical expenses, as well as $325,000 for pain and suffering.

Devlin asked her if she realized Gallant had received the higher dosage when it proved difficult to wake Gallant up fully and get him breathing on his own again after surgery to remove his wisdom teeth in September 2004.

Reversal drugs had to be administered twice when Gallant proved slow in coming out from under the effects of the anesthesia.

Farries she did not become aware of the discrepancy until she reviewed medical records after the February 2008 discovery for the lawsuit.

Farries’ statement of defence says Gallant was monitored properly and his oxygen levels were high and he left hospital in good condition later that day.

Laurie Goldbach, a lawyer acting for Farries, asked her if she considered the neuromuscular blocker amounts given as an “error.”

Farries replied the dose was “not that high.”

Earlier during questioning from Goldbach, Farries said that Gallant’s time under anesthesia was “unremarkable.”

There were no problems with oxygen levels and the length of time it took to wake him up was not a concern as long as he was properly ventilated and monitored as he was.

“We know cerebral palsy patients are slow to wake up,” she said.

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Monica Bast will hear closing arguments from lawyers for both sides on Friday.

pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

 
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