December 10, 2023

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B.C. rancher sues health authority, doctors for operating on wrong ankle

A B.C. rancher is suing two Vernon doctors and Interior Health, claiming an ankle surgery was botched as they operated on the wrong leg.

In court documents filed in Kamloops last week, Julie Alison Reid alleges she was admitted to Vernon Jubilee Hospital (VJH) on March 5, 2020, to have an arthroscopic fusion of her left ankle.

The medical malpractice lawsuit names Dr. Julian Sernik and Dr. Robert Hillis as defendants, and claims despite the two confirming with Reid which ankle they were to operate on prior to the surgery, they didn’t know they working on the wrong ankle until nurses pointed it out around 90 minutes into the operation.

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Reid is seeking relief for general damages, special damages plus past and future costs of health-care services.

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In the statement of facts, the lawsuit says Interior Health, VJH, Sernik and Hillis owed a duty of care to provide appropriate and proper care plus assessment and treatment for the plaintiff’s medical conditions.

“Prior to the operation, (Reid) spoke to Dr. Sernik and/or Dr. Hillis and staff of the Health Authority and VJH and confirmed the correct limb for the operation and marked and signed her left leg,” says part of the seven-page notice of civil claim.

“After putting the plaintiff under general anesthetic, the defendants, Dr. Sernik, Dr. Hillis and employees and staff of VJH and the Health Authority in fact performed an arthroscopic examination and debridement of the plaintiff’s right ankle, where cartilage was removed from the plaintiff’s right ankle.

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“The operation on the plaintiff’s right ankle continued for approximately 90 minutes until the defendants, Dr. Sernik and Dr. Hillis, were notified by circulating nurses that they were, in fact, operating on the wrong ankle of the plaintiff.”

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The court document says approximately two hours after the surgery was performed, the two doctors informed Reid they had operated on the wrong ankle.

Following the surgery, the notice of claim says Reid suffered pain and numbness in her right ankle and right knee, scarring and psychological injuries.

The lawsuit says the wrong surgery has caused “pain, suffering, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of earnings and prospective earnings, and the plaintiff will continue to suffer in the future.”

On Wednesday, Interior Health told Global News “as this matter is currently before the courts, Interior Health will not be commenting.”

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