WOMAN LEFT HOSPITAL, DIED OUTSIDE
Friends Say 33-Year-Old Feared Poisoning; Hospital Denies Treatment Was Refused
A mother of two who, according to friends, feared she had poisoned herself with street drugs was diagnosed with a bladder infection at Abbotsford Hospital and discharged -- only to die on a bench outside.
The coroner, Abbotsford police and the Fraser Health Authority are now investigating the April 6 death of 33-year-old addict Carrie-Ann Hicks.
Her older brother, Tom Hicks, 36, says the family has retained a lawyer and is considering legal action against the hospital.
"They told her to leave. She wanted to stay in observation," Hicks said. "She didn't feel right. She's done the stuff [crystal meth and crack cocaine] before and she knows the difference."
Sgt. Mark Schulz of the Abbotsford police department confirmed Carrie-Ann was removed from the hospital.
"My understanding is security escorted her out," Schulz said.
Regional coroner Vince Stancato says an autopsy has been performed and full toxicological screen ordered. The results of both examinations are not expected for several weeks.
"We have taken it on full-tilt as a coroner's case," Stancato said.
"All circumstances will be looked at."
Stancato said Carrie-Ann Hicks was admitted to the hospital at about
7:15 p.m. and found unresponsive in the smoking area outside the emergency room at about 11 p.m.
Repeated attempts to revive her failed and Hicks was declared dead at 11:45.
Stancato said she'd been diagnosed with a urinary tract infection and prescribed a course of antibiotics.
Health authority spokesman Paul Harris told The Province that Hicks left the facility willingly.
"She was appropriately diagnosed and the treatment was prescribed.
She was discharged and left of her own accord," Harris said. "While we're unfortunately limited by what we can say [due to patient confidentiality restrictions] we do not believe the cause of death is in any way associated with the reason she came to the ER."
Fraser Health is now awaiting the coroner's findings, Harris said.
"We are obviously conducting a review into the circumstances of the case," he said.
Friend Lavay Evans, who was at the hospital that night for pregnancy issues and happened to meet up with the distraught woman, insists her friend begged hospital staff to let her stay.
"She told me she had gone in, she knew she'd had bad drugs and was not OK. They would not let her back in the hospital," Evans said.
Evans said she and her boyfriend offered to chaperone Hicks in the emergency room, but she was still refused re-entry.
"She didn't want to go outside. She was scared for her life," said Jenny Jones, another friend at the hospital that night.
It was while Evans was on the phone inside the hospital trying to arrange a bed in a detox facility for Hicks that someone came into the emergency ward and alerted staff to a medical emergency outside.
Moments later, a body covered by a sheet was wheeled by on a stretcher. Evans said she knew it was Hicks because she recognized her friend's clothing. A nurse later broke the news.
"She said Carrie-Ann had died. She'd lost her heartbeat and breathing," Evans said.
Hicks had recently completed a six-month term at Stepping Stones, an Abbotsford recovery house, but had relapsed into drug use shortly after being released last month. Managing director Christian Roux said the facility was helping to make arrangements to pick her up from the hospital when she died.
Roux stressed Carrie-Ann had made no previous visits to the Abbotsford hospital that would have made staff there aware of her drug problems.
Jones described her friend as a woman with a vast potential who excelled in the recovery house but sadly could not resist the pull of drugs.
"She was awesome, really caring and sweet. She was just messed up.
She wanted to get a job. She was really happy with life," Jones said.
Source: Province, The (CN BC)