Excerpted article was written By Luke Hendry
Tilley, 75, underwent a gastroscopy and a colonoscopy Jan. 27 at Belleville General Hospital.
There he completed the required paperwork detailing his medical history, including noting his teeth were capped.
But upon awaking from sedation, Tilley said, a nurse told him she had bad news for him.
The nurse handed him a plastic bottle containing pieces of his teeth. His two top central incisors were missing.
“What the hell happened?” he asked her.
Tilley said he then learned he had apparently bitten the bite block, a small device inserted into the patient’s mouth to prevent damage to the gastroscope.
In an Intelligencer interview, Tilley discussed his case calmly, showing no anger, only a sense of disbelief at injury and the aftermath.
He said he’s since been through the uncomfortable ordeal of having the missing teeth replaced with implants and a confusing process of trying to get answers and compensation.
“Am I the only person this has happened to?” he asked. “I can’t be.” Tilley said he’s curious to know if any other patients with similar experiences have been compensated.
Quinte Health Care community relations manager Catherine Walker declined The Intelligencer’s request to interview hospital officials.
They cannot discuss specifics of patient care, she wrote via e-mail.
“In healthcare, we try to take all precautions to mitigate as many risks as possible to reduce the chance of complications occurring,” Walker wrote.
“With any surgical procedure there are risks involved and our medical professionals discuss both the risks and the benefits with our patients in advance of any procedure.
“We do more than 10,000 endoscopy procedures annually at BGH and PECMH (Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital) – approximately 3,000 of those are gastroscopies.”
Walker continued by saying problems do occur during such procedures but “in the vast majority of cases” there are no complications.
Tilley said his teeth were in good shape prior to the gastroscopy.
Replacing them through dental surgery was another matter.
“I went through hell,” he said. “This guy’s in my mouth with a hammer and a chisel, trying to break the roots out.”
He said he went through multiple appointments and suffered a health complication after that process.
But seven months later, and after using a temporary “flipper” insert to replace his missing teeth, his lost teeth have been replaced with implants. Tilley said he’s now comfortable and able to eat normally.
“It was not cheap,” said Tilley. “Of course I want to be compensated.”
He would not disclose the cost.
Tilley said he wasn’t interested in the grief of pursuing legal proceedings or filing a formal complaint against doctors. But he said he’s been frustrated by the lack of answers and the inability to recoup his costs – either from the hospital, the doctors, or the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP).
“I pay OHIP,” he said, referring to the Ontario Health Insurance Plan.
“And for something like this to happen, why can I not be compensated?
“I shouldn’t have to have concern or dealings with the internal politics or finances of a hospital.”
He said he merely wants his out-of-pocket expenses to be covered, though he added dryly he wouldn’t be troubled by a larger amount.
Tilley said he met with a Quinte Health Care patient experience specialist within days of his initial procedure and was in turn referred to the corporation’s insurer.
After speaking by telephone with an insurance adjuster, Tilley later received a letter from the insurer, which declined compensation. The letter explained the hospital’s insurance policy does not cover self-employed professionals such as doctors – and that an anesthetist placed the bite block in Tilley’s mouth and a surgeon inserted the scope.
In short, since his complaint didn’t involve hospital staff directly, he’d have to take his claim elsewhere.
Tilley said his lawyer has advised pursuing a legal claim would be a long and costly process.
He also said that, contrary to the insurer’s letter, he recalls no paperwork or discussion informing him of the risk of dental injury. He
Tilley said received no apology and no hospital officials and, after referring him to the insurer, “Quinte Health Care didn’t offer any suggestions or information.”
The corporation’s Catherine Walker said staff work directly with patients “to understand the situation, to apologize for their experience and to come to a resolution.”
Tilley, though, remains unsatisfied.
“We all make mistakes in our businesses. I’ve been there,” said the retired entrepreneur.
“This wasn’t my fault. Somebody, I feel, should be responsible.”
Source: , The Intelligencer