Botched operation costs $2.9 million – Teenage girl suffers brain damage while in anesthetic recovery

The family of Megan Gallant, who suffered catastrophic brain damage in 2001 during a minor operation, was awarded a $2,925,000 judgment against the Capital Health Region in a decision handed down Friday.

“The family is very pleased with the award, but it’s one of the those difficult situations,” said the Gallants’ lawyer, Michael Velletta. “It’s hard to feel celebratory about this, but it brings to an end a lot of uncertainty and a lot of difficulties that they’ve faced in providing care for Megan. Now they will be able to provide a much-higher level of care and will have stability into the future.

“But nothing will bring their daughter back, nothing will make whole their life, no amount of money. They realize that.”

Megan was 15 years old when she suffered brain damage while in the post-anesthetic recovery room at Victoria General Hospital. According to her lawyers, she was left unattended for a period of time while still under the effect of anesthetics.

Spokesman Graham Sanderson of the Vancouver Island Health Authority, which includes the former Capital Health Region, said he could confirm only that the organization’s lawyers indicated a confidential settlement was reached in the Gallant case.

“It was a tragic incident and our sympathy goes out to the family,” said Sanderson, VIHA’s regional director for risk management.

Velletta said the award approved by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Jacqueline Dorgan is at the high end of what is given for such injury cases in the province. The total includes the cost of future care, future loss of income, loss of marriage, legal expenses and the highest amount available for pain and suffering in Canada — $295,000.

Megan’s mother, Yvette, has been caring for her at home since December, 2001, and the judgment ensures she can continue, Velletta said.

“This judgment will enable her to obtain a better, more suitable home that’s outfitted specially for (Megan).”

He said Megan requires “total care”, including visits by a variety of therapists.

“We fought hard to prevent her from having to go into institutional care.”

Velletta said the case waged on Megan’s behalf was complex, hard-fought and technical, involving testimony from over 40 experts.

One area of emphasis for him and co-counsel Gregory Rhone was the “lapse in care” that was involved, he said.

“The family, and ourselves as well, wanted to ensure through this process a higher standard of care, and wanted to bring home that message and hold the parties accountable and responsible for the benefit of future patients.”