Mother suing for ‘emotional shock’ after son dies upon release from Kitimat hospital

Joshua Benson collapsed on a sidewalk about an hour after being treated in the ER

The general hospital in Kitimat, B.C. Photo: APTN file


A Gitxsan mother is suing a small hospital in northern B.C. for alleged medical negligence after her son collapsed and died when he left the facility.

Naomi Bracken says she was on the phone with Joshua Benson, 39, after he was treated for seven hours at Kitimat General Hospital on Aug. 31, 2020.

Kitimat is a small town in British Columbia, about 200 km east of Prince Rupert.

Benson went to the hospital’s emergency room at 2:30 p.m. complaining of chest pain, says the statement of claim filed against Northern Health on June 11.

Northern Health in Prince George is a provincial body that oversees hospitals and health centres in northern B.C.

It has 21 days to file a statement of defence.

The emergency entrance at the rear of Kitimat hospital. Photo: Kathleen Martens

The claim says the labourer received various medications, a physical exam and chest x-ray as part of his treatment.

But at 8 p.m., the claim says he “reported the pain was resolved” although his blood pressure was “still elevated.”

“Benson was discharged home at 10:15 p.m…(He) was advised to see his family doctor in the morning or go to the ER for a blood pressure check,” continues the claim.

Benson told the hospital he had a ride home but the claim says the “lift did not materialize” and he left the hospital on foot.

“At 11:05 p.m., just 50 minutes post-discharge, Benson clutched his chest and collapsed in cardiopulmonary arrest,” the claim says.

“A bystander started CPR on Benson and called 911.”

Joshua Benson, 39, died shortly after leaving Kitimat hospital in August, 2020. Photo: Naomi Bracken

Bracken has told APTN News she was on the phone with her son at the time and he was partway up Haisla Hill, a steep road outside the hospital.

“At 11:10 p.m., the ambulance arrived,” her claim says. “The paramedics took over and applied AED (automated external defibrillator), secured the airway, continued CPR and rushed Benson back to the hospital where appropriate CPR/ACLS (advanced cardiovascular life support) measures were continued…,

“At 11:54 p.m., Benson was pronounced dead.”

Bracken alleges her son received incomplete and unprofessional care, and should have been admitted overnight for further tests. Instead of being discharged and dying on a sidewalk.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

This is the second recent civil suit filed against the hospital by an Indigenous woman alleging negligence. Sarah Morrison of Kitimat is seeking compensation for the stillborn death of her daughter.

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“The defendants failed to take into consideration that enough narcotics/pain medication can resolve any pain,” says the claim.

“In addition, Defendants failed to consider that one of the causes of the underlying causes of Benson’s pain could include a life-threatening, aortic dissection/rupture.”

Bracken is suing for undisclosed financial damages for “emotional shock…trauma, anxiety and grief” in addition to other alleged losses.

A spokesperson for Northern Health confirmed she received APTN’s request for comment.

“I can confirm that Northern Health has been served (with the claim),” Eryn Collins emailed.

“NH is unable to comment further, due to the litigation process.”

Editor’s note: The story was updated to include a comment from Northern Health, which arrived after deadline.

Investigative Reporter / Winnipeg

Award-winning reporter Kathleen Martens covers western and northern Canada for aptnnews.ca. A veteran of the Brandon Sun, Sun Media and APTN Investigates, she is based in APTN’s head office, specializing in stories about property, women’s rights and community.