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Kelowna teacher suing Penticton surgeon over alleged ‘negligent’ operation

Lawsuit alleges ureter severed during operation resulted in many subsequent surgeries and suffering
Interior Health’s South Okanagan executive director of clinical operations, Carl Meadows, says he, alongside staff at the Penticton Regional Hospital, are ready for COVID-19. (Phil McLachlan - Western News)

A Kelowna teacher has filed a lawsuit against Interior Health and a Penticton surgeon over claims that her surgery was mishandled and resulted in several subsequent surgeries and suffering.

In a civil claim filed in Kelowna’s Supreme Court on Dec. 30, 2021, Jessica Jane Stelkia claimed that she had not been properly informed of the risks with the surgery, and that the surgeon, Dr. Julie Ryckman, was negligent during the operation leading to her ureter getting severed and multiple subsequent surgeries.

According to the notice of claim, Stelkia underwent surgery to remove an ovarian cyst in January 2020, after being referred to Dr. Ryckman to discuss options in November 2019 following an ultrasound.

During the surgery, the cyst was removed, as was the ovary and Fallopian tube on Stelkia’s right side. It was during this operation that Stelkia’s right ureter, which connects the right kidney to the bladder, was severed.

A week later on Jan. 10 she went to the South Okanagan General Hospital in Oliver after suffering from two days of chills, sweats, pain and vomiting. She was transferred to Penticton Regional Hospital for urgent imaging which revealed a large mass in the left side of her pelvis and a smaller one on the right.

The next day she underwent a procedure that inserted a drainage tube into her side, which emptied out 300 ccs of fluid and puss. A follow-up CT scan was ordered as the tube continued to drain a higher than expected amount of fluid, revealing the severed ureter.

On Jan. 14, she was transferred to Kelowna General Hospital to insert a tube into her kidney to drain it directly into an external bag.

In July, her right ureter was re-attached in an operation with a different surgeon. In 2021, she underwent another surgery to address a hernia caused by the original operation.

READ ALSO: Penticton drops lawsuit against BC Housing; new shelter proposed

The civil claim alleges that Dr. Ryckman had failed to provide adequate information ahead of the operation in order to proceed with valid and informed consent, and that Dr. Rykman failed to exercise appropriate caution and to properly perform the surgery.

Interior Health is also held as being negligent in the claim for their role as Dr. Rykman’s employer.

Stelkia alleges that as a result of the negligence by the defendants, she suffered from sepsis, chronic pain, infection and psychological injuries including depression and anxiety which lead to a loss of earnings, enjoyment of life and ability to keep up with housekeeping.

The claim seeks to have all the costs of any past and future health care services covered, as well as general damages.

No response to the claim has been filed and the claim has not been proven in court.

READ ALSO: Class-action lawsuit filed to recoup losses from Sumas Prairie flooding in Abbotsford

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Brennan Phillips

About the Author: Brennan Phillips

Brennan was raised in the Okanagan and is thankful every day that he gets to live and work in one of the most beautiful places in Canada.
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