POLITICS

Canadian Military Won't Accept Responsibility For Soldier's Botched Tumour Case

04/20/2015 12:38 EDT | Updated 06/20/2015 05:59 EDT
OTTAWA - A 24-year-old reservist says the Canadian military is refusing to accept responsibility for misdiagnosing her brain tumour and she won't get the support she was promised by Defence Minister Jason Kenney.

Leading Seaman Robyn Young, originally from Windsor, Ont., went to a military doctor complaining of headaches and double vision.

"It's really hard," said an emotional Young who spoke at a Parliament Hill news conference. "It's really heard to figure this out because this just happened this morning, and we're so caught off guard it's so hard to know that I'm not going to get any support."

Despite displaying symptoms of a brain tumour for four years, Young was sent for corrective eye surgery — something that civilian doctors say was unnecessary and contributes to her ongoing health problems.

A tumour the size of a toonie was found and removed last June, and the family wants National Defence to pick up the tab for her continuing care.

But during a meeting with military officials on Monday, Young was told a quality of care review concluded her condition was not attributable to military service.

She said it was suggested she apply for veterans affairs benefits, but the chances of that being granted are slim if her condition is not attributed to military service.

Young's mother, Pearl Osmond, says doctors have said her daughter's ongoing health problems — including persistent double vision and vomiting — are related to the unnecessary surgery.

"We have specialists that will support that, and we have it writing," she said. "So, they're saying, if she did not have that misdiagnosed eye surgery, she would have been completely recovered and completely carrying on with her life."

The military had an obligation to get it right, said Osmond.

"She had a brain tumour. It didn't get diagnosed by the military officer. He had four years to diagnose it. He could've ordered a CAT scan."

A spokeswoman for National Defence says the military "has been helping her to the extent that we can," and that Young's complaint about her care was reviewed by the department's surgeon general's complaints committee.

"It concluded that the clinical management at the time of the alleged misdiagnosis was consistent with the clinical picture and with the Canadian standard of medical practice," said Lt.-Cmdr. Meghan Marsaw in an email.

She noted the committee engaged an outside consultant in its review and that Young has recourse. She can file a complaint with an outside college of physicians and surgeons, as well as file a grievance within the military.

But all of that will take time.

A series of fundraisers are being held for Young, and she has received help through the military's family resource centre. But that is now coming to an end, she is unable to work, and doesn't know what to do.

Young was a reservist called up to full-time duty at the time of treatment and that's why she fell under the military medical system.

Liberal defence critic Joyce Murray said she is very disappointed at the outcome of the medical review, noting it runs contrary to assurances Kenney gave in the House of Commons last month.

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