An interesting medical malpractice lawsuit pitting one medical professional against several others is playing out in Ottawa, according to the Ottawa Citizen. The plaintiff in the case, Dr. Inge Loy-Enlish, is a neurologist, the former director of the memory program at Ottawa’s Elisabeth Bruyère Hospital, and an expert in treating dementia. She is seeking more than $2.6-million in damages from The Ottawa Hospital and a team of doctors and nurses that worked there.

In January 2013, after years of suffering abdominal pain, Loy-English underwent a procedure that allows doctors to examine the ducts that drain the liver and pancreas, known as an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). The doctors also planned to perform a sphincterotomy during the ERCP. This treatment involves cutting into the muscle surrounding the ducts’ opening using a long, flexible instrument threaded into the small intestine via the throat.

Loy-English’s small intestine was perforated during the procedure, a complication that the Mayo Clinic says affects less than one per cent of ERCP patients. The perforation caused free gas to line her abdomen, triggering severe abdominal pain. An x-ray performed following the surgery alerted doctors to the presence of the gas, which is a common symptom of a perforated bowel. Loy-English was discharged nonetheless.

In considerable pain, she went directly to the emergency room, where her condition deteriorated. After an x-ray and CT scan confirmed the perforation, she was prescribed a course of antibiotic treatment and admitted to the hospital. She soon slipped into a coma and suffered a period of cerebral hypoxia, when oxygen fails to reach the brain. She also developed a widespread infection and on January 12, just four days after the initial procedure, went into septic shock, which can cause organ failure.

Loy-English underwent two operations in the following days, one of which confirmed the perforated bowel and a second in which surgeons were unable to close the wound.

“The surgical, team was unable to repair the perforated bowel because the infection was extensive and the bowel was severely compromised,” the statement of claim for the medical malpractice lawsuit reads.

Loy-English eventually spent months in hospital and rehabilitation, and a large section of her colon was removed. According to her statement of claim, the neurologist now “suffers from nausea, diarrhea, malnutrition, muscle weakness, depression, fatigue and various cognitive deficits as a result of the infection, hypoxia and ileostomy (a procedure that redirects the small intestine outside the body).” She is unable to resume her career, which was originally derailed by abdominal pain in 2010.

While it is clear that Loy-English has endured significant pain and suffering as a result of complications from the ERCP procedure, the fate of her medical malpractice lawsuit is anything but clear. The Ottawa Hospital has denied negligence on its part, the Citizen reports, and claims it is not liable for the actions of the lead doctor in her operation.

If you or a member of your family has suffered complications from a medical procedure, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers’ Medical Malpractice Group to learn how our team can help.


Greg Neinstein