Family of Woman With Spina Bifida is Left Without Answers After Her Preventable Death

According to a story from Yahoo! News, Dorothy Dunnington is beginning to wonder if she will ever fully understand the circumstances surrounding the death of her sister Chrissy, who was born with hydrocephalus and spina bifida—or if anyone will be held accountable. Chrissy, who was 40 years old when she died, had significant mental and physical disabilities and had been living at the Shannex’s Parkstone Enhanced Care home for over a year before she was rushed to the hospital with symptoms that would ultimately prove fatal.

About Spinal Bifida

Spina bifida is a birth defect in which the back bone does not fully close around the spinal cord. The area most typically affected is the lower back, but it can also appear along the mid back or neck. There are several different types which vary in their severity. The defect has been linked to a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Some risk factors include family history, folic acid deficiency during the pregnancy, diabetes, obesity, using antiseizure medication, white or hispanic descent, and alcohol consumption. Girls are more susceptible than boys. Symptoms range widely in severity but can include poor walking or inability to walk, abnormal eye movement, leg weakness or paralysis, club foot, scoliosis, skin conditions, poor kidney function, and incontinence. Some patients may have neurological abnormalities or learning disabilities. Treatment typically involves surgery. To learn more about spina bifida, click here.

A Case of Neglect?

Chrissy was admitted to the hospital after a severe, bone-deep bedsore became infected, leading to extreme dehydration, septic shock, bone infections, a urinary tract infection, and pneumonia. Dorothy says that if her sister had been left in her own care and was in such poor condition she would have undoubtedly faced criminal charges. However, investigators from the Halifax Regional Police stated that there was no evidence of misbehavior surrounding her death.

The province has instituted a policy of tracking bedsores after the incident, but Dorothy fears that other disabled people in the medical system could be vulnerable to neglect.

“I don’t know what we need to do to fix it, but I know what’s happening right now is not good enough.” – Dorothy Dunnington


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