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Royal Alexandra Hospital and others sued in woman's death

Some British Columbia residents may have heard about a lawsuit regarding the estate of a 35-year-old woman who died at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton in 2009. The estate is now suing for $190,000 in damages. This includes $10,000 in funeral costs and bereavement damages of $45,000 for each of the woman's four children. Named in the wrongful death suit are several security guards, the hospital itself and Alberta Health Services.

The woman was found by security guards after drinking hand sanitizer that was alcohol-based around 1 p.m. on Dec. 28, 2009. In keeping with longstanding hospital policy, she was taken to the emergency room's ambulance bay to sober up. Afterward, she was supposed to have been removed from the premises, but a little more than two hours later, security guards found her either dead or near death, and she could not be resuscitated. She died due to drug toxicity and ethanol.

The suit alleges that the woman should have been medically evaluated and monitored. The suit also states that Alberta Health Services knew that having people access the premises in order to drink the hand sanitizer was an ongoing problem. Alberta Health Services has since changed storage procedures for the alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Containers are now kept locked in areas that remain under observation.

In British Columbia, only certain family members may file a wrongful death claim in the event of a fatality caused by reckless or negligent actions. The lawsuit may be settled by the insurance provider to cover the final expenses of the deceased, including funeral costs and income that the family lost as a result of the death.

Source: Edmonton Journal, "Estate launches lawsuit stemming from hand-sanitizer death", Ryan Cormier, May 02, 2014

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