Negligence suit rejected; Patient refused blood transfusions

Toronto Sun/August 20, 2004

The family of a Jehovah's Witness who died from blood loss during surgery in Chilliwack General Hospital has had its claim for compensation rejected by the B.C. Supreme Court, although negligence was a factor in her death. Daphine Hobbs, a 35-year-old mother of three infants, died April 16, 1996, after a hysterectomy performed by obstetrician Dr. John Robertson.

Before the operation, she had signed a waiver saying she did not want to receive a blood transfusion at any time during the process.

Had the operation gone normally, she would have lost a small quantity of blood but at the end of surgery she had lost four litres -- most of her circulating blood volume.

In his judgment this week, Justice Ian Pitfield found that by signing the waiver she had relinquished all rights to compensation.

In accordance with her religious beliefs, Hobbs had asked she not be given a transfusion and signed a waiver releasing the hospital and physicians "from any responsibility whatsoever for unfavourable reactions or complications or any untoward results, which may include death, due to my refusal to permit the use of blood or its derivatives."

Pitfield said, "It is difficult to accept that a person should be able to deny a physician the opportunity to use every tool in his arsenal to overcome the effects of negligence and require the physician to accept full responsibility."

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