A Brandon-area family plans to share their story of hope as an example of the good that can happen when health-care professionals are willing to support their patients. Patti Green’s son, Danny Beddome, made a remarkable recovery following a car crash and she has a message for health care providers, patients and families.
"The message that we probably want to get most across is not to give up hope," said Green, who said her son’s recovery was given a chance to succeed by a neurologist who stuck up for her son when his treatment was in doubt.
On March 1, Beddome rolled through a yield sign at an intersection near his home east of Brandon and his car was hit by a semi-trailer.
Green said her 21-year-old son was lucky to survive the crash itself.
"It looked like a flattened hay bale," she said of Beddome’s smashed Volkswagen Jetta.
Unconscious, Beddome was sent to the Intensive Care Unit at the Brandon hospital where he remained in a coma for 17 days.
An initial CT scan showed that he’d suffered a fractured skull, but an MRI scan done the day after the crash showed that Beddome had sustained a "brain shear." There was bleeding and damage in areas throughout the brain.
Green said 90 per cent of patients with such injuries don’t survive.
In addition, Beddome developed pneumonia and one doctor questioned whether it was worthwhile to treat him.
But a neurologist successfully argued in favour of the pneumonia treatment — there would be no hope for Beddome without it because he was otherwise young and strong.
Green said she didn’t know at the time that this debate had happened. It was only a month after the crash that she’d found out and it leaves her wondering what would have happened if the neurologist hadn’t stuck up for her son.
Green also said that certain doctors were too pessimistic about the prospects of recovery.
She said her son was given a one in 10,000 chance of making a full recovery and one doctor told her the family should prepare to have him placed in a care home.
Green didn’t agree. She said her son was making fleeting eye contact and was trying to emerge from the coma and talk.
"I don’t think that that doctor really listened to me."
But on March 18, after being moved to a rehabilitation ward, Beddome awoke and his work with physiotherapy, occupational and speech therapists began.
At first, he couldn’t get out of bed or even hold his head up.
But, with work he moved to a wheelchair and by the time he left the hospital on May 17, he could get around with the help of a walker.
After emerging from his coma, he’d struggled to recite his ABCs but, although his memory isn’t quite as sharp as before, he now speaks normally.
His balance and co-ordination is still a little off, but his mom figures he’s made a 90 to 95 per cent recovery at this point and her son is his old self.
Beddome said he plans to return to school this year to pursue his dream of becoming a carpenter.
Green plans to share her son’s story during a patient safety forum in Brandon today as an example of what can happen when things go right in the health care system — when doctors are open-minded and willing to consult with each other.
"I’m not saying that this is a miracle, but boy were we lucky, so lucky," Green said.
"If you do get the care that you need, like when the doctors do do their best, then the case can be very good," Beddome added.
Although, while they praised hospital staff for their work, they also said the controversy surrounding the pneumonia treatment and the long odds given for recovery show the need for medical professionals to keep an open mind and pay closer attention to patients.
"I think maybe doctors need to study the patients a little more and spend a little more time with them," Green said.
Beddome and Green intend to share their story with patient advocate Donna Davis who will speak at a free patient safety public forum at the Victoria Inn this evening at 7 p.m.
The event is hosted by Prairie Mountain Health and the Manitoba Institute for Patient Safety.
Davis’s experience with health care doesn’t have the happy ending that Beddome’s had.
Davis is a nurse and ambulance attendant from Carievale, Sask., who has become an internationally-recognized speaker and advocate for patient and family-centred care.
She fought for change after her son failed to receive proper care at a Regina hospital following a car crash.
Staff mistakenly believed that Davis’s son, Vance, had been a drunk driver and failed to listen to the family’s concerns.
Hospital staff mischaracterized Vance’s head injury as minor and they failed to notify a neurosurgeon of the case even though Davis repeatedly told them that her son’s condition was worsening.
Surgery was finally performed, but Vance couldn’t be saved.
Davis and her family then mounted a six-year fight that finally brought policy and procedure changes in the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region and Saskatchewan.
Davis now works to spread the message of the importance of open communication between healthcare providers, patients and families. She urges health care workers to listen to patients and their families.