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Estate of woman who died in hospital files suit

Victor Lewin - Monday, May 19, 2014

Nova Scotia residents may be interested to hear about the progress of a lawsuit following the death of a woman at a hospital. The woman's estate said that the hospital's negligence resulted in her death after she consumed hand sanitizer that was made available throughout the facility. The suit states that the hospital was aware of the problem of people entering the hospital to consume hand sanitizer but did not take sufficient measures to prevent it, nor did they treat the woman after she had consumed the product.

The incident occurred on Dec. 28, 2009, at Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton. The 35-year-old woman entered the hospital and consumed the hand sanitizer. Security guards at the hospital found her around 1 p.m. and took her to the hospital's ambulance bay. It was common practice at the time to take people who used hand sanitizer to the ambulance bay so that they could sober up before leaving hospital property. No one examined the woman to determine if she needed treatment, and no one monitored her condition. By the time staff attempted to give her medical attention at 3:15 p.m., she was dead or nearly dead. Her cause of death was listed as ethanol and drug toxicity.

The woman's estate filed suit against Royal Alexandra Hospital, Alberta Health Services and the security agency employing the guards. The estate sought $45,000 in bereavement damages for the woman's four children along with $10,000 in funerary expenses.

The hospital in this case may have practiced negligence both in leaving a hazardous product where it could be accessed publicly and in declining to treat the woman. In cases where surviving family members such as young children cannot file suit again negligent parties, a personal representative of the deceased person's estate may be able to do so.

Source: Edmonton News, "Estate launches lawsuit stemming from hand-sanitizer death", Ryan Cormier, May 02, 2014

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