HALIFAX – A Halifax children’s hospital says it will provide Rehtaeh Parsons’ parents with recommendations from a peer review into how she was cared for last year after they voiced concerns about her treatment.
The internal medical report focuses on Parsons’ specific treatments and medical record. It is distinct from an external review announced earlier this week that will examine policies and procedures more generally.
Parsons was admitted to the IWK Health Centre in March 2012, about five months after she was allegedly sexually assaulted and became suicidal. Her family alleges she was sexually assaulted by four boys and a digital photograph of the incident was passed around her school.
The 17-year-old girl hanged herself in April and was taken off life-support three days later.
Glen Canning said he has a number of concerns about his daughter’s mental health treatment, including a lack of focus on her depression and trauma from the alleged sexual assault.
He also said his daughter told him she was strip searched by two male employees near the end of her stay.
“It (the search) destroyed her trust in them and after that it was a matter of trying to get her out of the hospital,” he said in an interview Thursday.
However, Anne McGuire, president and CEO of the IWK, said in an interview that the hospital stands by a June 8 news release that stated Parsons “was not stripped nor strip searched by two men while in our care.”
She said she cannot provide further details about the matter because of privacy legislation.
However, McGuire said she is hopeful that after the parents meet with hospital staff, and receive medical records and see the medical review’s recommendations, their concerns about their daughter’s treatment can be addressed.
“It’s actually been completed for some time,” McGuire said of the peer review.
“Our offer is to review the record with them. Our practice is to sit with the family, go through the record and answer any questions they may have.”
She said the parents will receive medical charts that describe all of the treatment Parsons received during her stay.
“It is always helpful to the family to understand what actually happened. And I think, I believe, that will be true of Rehtaeh’s parents … in this case,” said McGuire.
She said the meeting can happen quickly, but she is waiting word from the parents that they have received the hospital’s records and are ready to meet.
Kevin McNamara, the deputy minister of Health and Wellness, says these kinds of reviews are conducted under provincial legislation and protect the confidentiality of the medical staff who participate.
“It allows a hospital to do a full review of an incident with no blame,” he said.
” It allows people to fess up and say, ‘I’ve screwed up’ so … they can fix it so it doesn’t happen that way the next time.”
Canning said he has asked for the medical charts and the notes of nurses and attendants that describe what happened.
He remains concerned there may be omissions.
“We got a little bit suspicious with the IWK. So we’ve requested every piece of paper associated with her stay. We’ll see what happens,” said Canning.
McGuire said the medical records will be provided and she respects the family’s desire to read the information before the meeting.
“In receiving the whole chart they will have access to everything that occurred during Rehtaeh’s stay with us,” she said.
Jana Davidson, the psychiatrist-in-chief of children’s programs at the Children’s and Women’s Health Centre of British Columbia, was appointed on Tuesday to review the hospital’s policies and practices. Her focus will be more generally on treatment and counselling services for young people and their families when there is a risk of suicide.