Cynthia Blackjack’s mother files lawsuit

The mother of Cynthia Blackjack, a Carmacks woman who died after being medevaced to Whitehorse, has filed a lawsuit against the Yukon government and the medical staff who cared for her daughter.

The mother of Cynthia Blackjack, a Carmacks woman who died after being medevaced to Whitehorse, has filed a lawsuit against the Yukon government and the medical staff who cared for her daughter.

Theresa Blackjack filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Yukon Supreme Court.

She claims that the nurse at the Carmacks Health Centre, the doctor and the paramedics were all negligent in her daugther’s  death.

It also accused two government departments of negligence. The lawsuit says the Yukon Department of Health and Social Services failed to keep the Carmacks Health Centre equipped with the proper functioning medical equipment and that the Department of Community Services failed to equip the aircraft properly.

None of the defendants in the case have filed statements of defence and nothing has been proven in court.

Blackjack died in November 2013 shortly after she was airlifted from Carmacks to Whitehorse.

Yukon’s chief coroner Kirsten Macdonald did an investigation following her death. Her report found that the incorrect tubing was available and so Backjack’s IV was delayed.

Other significant factors include that “the airway suction equipment at the health centre was not functioning and this delayed (and could have compromised) the airway management of Ms. Blackjack.”

Macdonald also notes in her report that “there appears to have been some hesitation in making a decision to intubate Ms. Blackjack despite her presentation of decreased level of consciousness, signs of shock, a respiratory rate of 40-50 and poor oxygen saturation.”

Health Minister Doug Graham has said that both the problems with the IV and the problem with the airway suction system were fixed quickly with little time lost.

Blackjack was a familiar face at the Carmacks Health Centre. She called in with dental pain on Nov. 4 and 5, 2013.

After her death, a dental examination found 10 abscessed teeth and rampant tooth decay.

On Nov. 6 she was seen at the health centre and advised to try and get a ride to Whitehorse and come back if she couldn’t find anyone.

“The medical triage, assessment and management of Ms. Blackjack at the health centre in Carmacks November 4, 5 and 6 was reasonable given the presenting symptoms, medical and social history,” Macdonald said.

On Nov. 7, family called the health centre, saying Blackjack was disoriented and yelling out in pain. It was decided she would be medevaced to Whitehorse. Her heart slowed down about 10 minutes before arriving at the hospital.

The cause of her death was ruled to be the failure of her liver and other organs.

The lawsuit does not specify how much money Blackjack is seeking. It asks for damages for things like grief, loss of companionship, loss of financial support as well as funeral costs and the costs of grief counselling.

A case management conference for everyone involved has been set for February.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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