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Local doc censured after baby death

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A longtime Brandon pediatrician has been censured following the death of one infant and an unnecessary liver transplant in another.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/11/2014 (2930 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A longtime Brandon pediatrician has been censured following the death of one infant and an unnecessary liver transplant in another.

Dr. Emmett Elves failed to “recognize his limitations” in treating the two, says the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba.

According to the college’s official censure — which amounts to a public warning — Dr. Elves incorrectly diagnosed a newborn’s digestive problem in February and didn’t consult with a neonatologist who might have been able to correctly diagnose the issue.

Another doctor who took over care of the infant called for a neonatalogist’s help a half hour after seeing the baby for the first time, and had it transferred to a Winnipeg hospital; however, the child died at the age of four days.

“Timely diagnosis … may have resulted in a greater chance” of saving the child, the report says.

The censure also cites a 2011 case, in which Dr. Elves was caring for a three-month-old baby who had jaundice.

After six months of care, with the child’s condition worsening, Dr. Elves attempted to phone pediatric gastroenterology, but wasn’t able to get hold of them. Another doctor who saw the child a week later immediately referred the girl to Winnipeg, where she was provisionally diagnosed with a problem that would have been best corrected at two to three months of age.

However, she was so sick by then that she had to be sent to a Toronto hospital for a liver transplant. The censure report says that “timely diagnosis” may have avoided the need for the transplant.

In order for the censure to become official, college registrar Dr. Bill Pope said Dr. Elves had to accept the findings of the report.

No other disciplinary action is available after both sides agree to the censure.

Dr. Elves was also required to pay the costs of the investigation, an amount just under $2,500.

“It’s very significant for a physician because the publication of it, as you can imagine, doctors feel very embarrassed by all of this and it is very public,” Dr. Pope said.

In 10 years the censure can be expunged from Dr. Elves’ profile, but it stays on his record forever, according to Dr. Pope.

Any time there is a direct request from a patient or if Dr. Elves asks for certification of professional conduct to work in another jurisdiction, the censure will be available.

Dr. Elves, who works at the Brandon Clinic, is one of only two pediatricians in the Prairie Mountain Health region, according to PMH spokesman Blain Kraushaar.

The other is in Dauphin, while some services are provided on an itinerant basis by physicians from Winnipeg.

Darcy Bell, controller at the Brandon Clinic, said the censure doesn’t change the relationship the clinic has with Dr. Elves.

“We are completely supportive of him and grateful to have him as a member of our clinic,” Bell said. “We’re extremely thankful for the service he provides to this region.”

In the first hours of the news of the censure, there was an outpouring of reaction on social media websites.

A Brandon Sun Facebook post generated more than 50 comments before 5 p.m. yesterday.

The majority of the comments supported Dr. Elves, with nearly 40 people coming to his defence.

Cheryl Klassen’s daughter suffers from a complex seizure disorder and the Oak Lake family is happy with the quality of care Dr. Elves has provided.

“He is very thorough and always takes time to explain things to me,” Klassen said. “Our daughter loves going to see him and likes to have a visit with him about the Wheat Kings or her latest interest.

“He has gone over and above to help our daughter — often calling in the evening or on holidays to report blood work findings or to make necessary changes to her medications based on results.”

Klassen said she feels blessed to have the care and support of Dr. Elves.

However, others didn’t agree.

One woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said Dr. Elves under-diagnosed her son after a visit to the hospital several years ago.

“I told him my son was screaming from headaches and throwing up but he just kept telling me that it was a virus and lots of kids were coming in with headaches,” she said.

The woman said she returned, this time taking her son to the emergency room, where the doctor immediately transported them via ambulance to Winnipeg.

Scans revealed a blood clot on the child’s brain.

“My son was expected to lose all mobility of his legs due to the clot,” she said. “It was a horrendous ordeal that could have been lessened had Dr. Elves ordered a scan.”

A call to Dr. Elves office yesterday was answered by his secretary, who said he wouldn’t be commenting on the censure.

» ctweed@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @CharlesTweed

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