Red Deer physician cleared of negligence

A Red Deer physician has been cleared of negligence following a court battle with a former Red Deer family.

A Red Deer physician has been cleared of negligence following a court battle with a former Red Deer family.

Paul and Sharon Gallant, who now live in Prince Edward Island, sued the David Thompson Regional Health Authority, dentist Gerald Nye and anesthesiologist Alayne Farries. They claimed that their disabled son, Shawn Gregory Gallant, suffered brain damage during surgery.

The Gallants claimed that their son, 18 at the time, suffered a lack of oxygen while recovering from a wisdom tooth extraction performed at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre on Sept. 24, 2004.

Actions against the health region and Nye were withdrawn during the second segment of the trial, which was split into two hearings over the span of one year.

Justice Monica Bast dismissed the claim against Farries in a 45-page decision filed on June 10.

Bast heard the lawsuit in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench in mid-November 2011 and for six more days in November 2012.

The Gallants alleged that Farries had not kept a close enough watch on Shawn during his recovery from surgery and that he suffered brain damage as a result, either from a lack of oxygen or from poor oxygen saturation in his bloodstream.

Shawn was diagnosed at 16 months old with cerebral palsy and had limited use of his legs and arms. Considering the patient’s physical status, including muscle spasms, Nye recommended that he go under general anaesthetic for a wisdom tooth extraction so he could be properly placed and then kept still.

Shawn was described in his mother’s testimony as well spoken but physically limited before the procedure. She said her previously chatty and pleasant son awoke from the surgery with marked changes in his mental state.

“He would just drive his powered wheelchair in circles, and he was not interested in television or anything around him,” Gallant said in testimony cited within Bast’s decision.

Bast wrote that she was unable to find any negligence on Farries’ part.

“The evidence suggests that Shawn’s condition is progressive as opposed to sudden, that is immediately following the dental surgery,” wrote Bast.

Evidence from the trial showed that Shawn experienced moments of lucidity in the months after the surgery, which does not correspond with damage suffered from a lack of oxygen, she said.

“I do not accept the plaintiff’s theory that he went into the surgery in one state and came out completely in another.”

Bast gave parties to the lawsuit one month from the date of her judgment to either settle costs of the trial or come back to her for a decision.

Neither Farries nor the Gallants have replied to the Advocate’s requests for comment.

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